10 Nov 2021
Avigail Tlalim, Michael Workeye
Two people are on a date. But whether or not they are a couple is the issue at stake.
There is one big question mark hovering over Beccs and Josh’s trip to the drive-thru. Are they going to be able to negotiate a form of togetherness which accommodates her practice of polyamory and his preference for monogamy?
Beccs’s phone rings insistently as the couple tease each other about who is supposed to be navigating. She is hesitant about taking the call and this is less about dating etiquette vis-a-vis mobile phone usage than whether integrity demands that she reveal her other love interests. Can she whip out the tablecloth of polyamory without the whole relationship crashing to the ground?
The script writers have found some better and funnier metaphors to illuminate the quandary - every element of the McDonalds Happy Meal is mined for innuendo. Why should you have to stick to just one ‘sauce’ when you can sample many? Should a fancy for ‘mayonnaise’ preclude an enjoyment of ‘ketchup’? Is a World War III of the condiments about to break out?
Josh states his case clearly: “At some point you’ve got to sit down, look at the menu and choose your meal”.
The whole short is filmed with one fixed camera angle - the viewer looking in through the front windscreen of the car. Reflected streetlights, tree branches and the headlights of other cars slide by. The McDonalds sign makes an appearance. It is an ultra-minimalist set with nothing wasted. A dangling blue toy gets its moment to squeak and even forms part of the commentary on fidelity.
As a premise, a 15-minute two-hander where the action revolves around ordering burgers might not sound gripping but the two lead performances are animated and slyly hilarious. Avigail Tlalim shapes her portrayal of Beccs with an expressive delivery and offbeat humour. Michael Workeye as Josh presents a more measured and affectionately exasperated character. The tone is light but there is a good deal of underlying tension and frustration. Josh wants to seem ‘cool’ about polyamory but fundamentally doesn’t get it. Beccs seems to think that a rational explanation will be enough to bring him round.
It would be entirely wrong to frame Sauce as a romantic comedy with ‘will the guy get the girl?’ as the burning question, yet this is the movie Josh seems to think he is in. Beccs steers the narrative in a completely different direction, offering an invitation to reconsider the rules of intimacy and whether exclusivity and longevity have to be the markers of a successful relationship. They are in the same car but on different journeys.
In the end, whether the viewer prefers to inflame their nuggets with chilli sauce or smother their McMuffin in mayo, this brilliantly executed drama will provide plenty of food for thought.