13 Jan 2022
Daniel D. Moses
Daniel D. Moses
Brooks Livermore, Aislinn De’Ath
A short sketch designed around the impracticalities of spy work during the pandemic.
Films about the pandemic were inevitable, but right now, they are frankly taboo. How can something we are living through be portrayed on screen in a manner that is palatable? And in this instance, how can it be funny in a world where almost every joke is likely to have passed through social media which we are increasingly more reliant on? Pandemic Spy’s brevity and wit somehow make it an enjoyable encounter despite its off-putting title.
Brooks Livermore stars as Fisher, our spy, whose information exchanges with agent Penny (Aislinn De’Ath) usually take place on an inconspicuous park bench. Now, the park is scarcely populated and the bench is cordoned off with safety tape. He begins to discover that there isn’t really a way to subtly trade secrets at 2 metres. What follows is a mix of slapstick gags designed around the two agents trying in vain to conduct their business whilst maintaining their cover. Some of it works, some of it doesn’t. The physicality of the performances means the visual comedy tends to be more chuckle-inducing than the at times over-written dialogue. Sometimes the simple jokes are best as a right-to-left pan would prove as it unveils the scale of the farce.
Pandemic Spy’s aesthetics are overtly influenced by the work of Edgar Wright. The quick pans, modulation of movement speeds, and slick, fast-paced editing give it a comic tone that feels familiar. More layers are added by allowing interplay between Fisher and the audience. He is granted a noir-style retrospective narration as well as the ability to break the fourth wall. This works as Livermore is instantly likeable and his charisma makes even the exploration of the darker side of the pandemic feel bearable. Like all good spies, the film has a secret weapon in the form of the original score from Patrick Moore. A Mission Impossible pastiche that keeps the film kinetic, the rhythm of the percussion and bass tones cutely underwrite the comedy to keep the mood buoyant.
Pandemic Spy may have shot itself in the foot sheerly through existing but it still manages to get the job done. A rather charming comedy short that is equally playful and measured.