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average rating is 4 out of 5


Patrick Foley


Posted on:

Mar 7, 2024

Film Reviews
Directed by:
Chris Easterly
Written by:
Chris Easterly
Patrick Mitchell, Lewis Wright

Some irresponsible driving from its protagonist aside, Maison is a charming little short about miscommunication and shared values across boundaries and cultures, that leaves the audience yearning to spend more time getting to know its characters.


When Moussa (Patrick Mitchell) finds himself lost in rural Kentucky on the way to catch a flight home to his native Mali, he pulls into a local gas station to ask for help. Unfortunately, no-one there speaks French – least of all attendant Danny (Lewis Wright), whose accent is almost as unintelligible as Moussa’s is. When further misfortune befalls both men, an act of generosity builds a bridge between the unlikely pair that offers both a path forward.


Maison is a heartwarming, simple short story and a witty contemplation on communication, language and understanding. As an audience, we get very little background on Moussa or Danny, beyond their circumstances throughout the film. Quite what Moussa is doing in Kentucky is anyone’s guess – but ultimately it doesn’t really matter. Similarly, beyond working long hours in a dead-end job to provide for his family, Danny’s background is left open to imagination. It allows director Chris Easterly to keep the focus of the film on the importance of establishing communication with those around us – and how small acts of kindness from locals in the gas station help slowly Moussa find his way forward.


Easterly smartly refrains from fully steering into stereotypes of rural American Southerners, with Lewis Wright’s Danny driven by world-weariness and unfamiliarity rather than ignorance or bigotry. The film’s purpose is more about everyday acts of goodwill, and Danny’s initial failed attempts to help Moussa are a result of him failing to recognise someone in need rather than negative sentiment. Its an effective realisation of a world that is both global and interconnected, yet remains small and sheltered in so many ways. The growing respect, and implied eventual friendship of Danny and Moussa carries a message that it doesn’t take a lot to build trust – to everyone’s mutual benefit.


The film’s humorous use of language and subtitles brings laughs, as Danny’s first utterances to Moussa are so strongly coated in Kentucky twang that they are just as incoherent to English speakers as they are to French. It drives home the futility of Moussa’s situation, but as the pair continue to interact, also offers commentary on how subtitles are often utilised in film. Danny’s longer, detailed and useful explainers are shortened down to the absolute basics – much in the manner that translations can result in different outputs in film both to and from English. It’s a small detail and one largely used for comedy, but does further the film’s themes and messaging about communication, context and meaning.


Given its brevity, there is a limit to how much Maison can say, and a longer runtime would have allowed for a little more character development. The lack of it doesn’t hurt the film’s message or overall quality, but getting to know more about Moussa and Danny would also not have diminished or diluted it either. It’s a testament to Easterly’s considered direction and the performances of Patrick Mitchell and Lewis Wright that viewers will be left contemplating their shared journey and what their futures hold – even if they are incapable of conversation.

About the Film Critic
Patrick Foley
Patrick Foley
Short Film, Digital / DVD Release, World Cinema
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