29 Aug 2021
Jermaine Burrowes and Julie Petrusak
Jermaine Burrowes, Julie Petrusak and Thor Bishopric
Mary Paige Snell, Guy Ventoliere, Julie Petrusak
One of the most interesting things to explore in film is something few of us can witness out in the open. A slow decay of a relationship or a marriage ending in a fiery explosion aren’t the kind of events that you just happen to witness. Perhaps it’s why films that centre on relationships lure us in. There’s always more than a hint of relatability, and we can watch something so private unfurl as if we were a fly on a wall.
Veto, written and directed by Jermaine Burrowes and Julie Petrusak, is a short film dealing with exactly that. It begins as though we have just watched a car crash, and the two main characters, Mary (Mary Paige Snell) and Gary (Guy Ventoliere), seem to be consumed by shock. Gary is outside and looks tormented. Mary, meanwhile, rips off her dressing gown and screams into her bathroom mirror. The film begins like the start of an indie music video. The backing track, the sounds of a hairdryer and Gary and Mary’s exaggerated emotional outbursts all draw you in. Burrowes and Petrusak have set up the perfect stage to analyse the fallout from a decaying relationship. How did Gary and Mary’s relationship get to this point? What happened? The imaginative beginning intrigues and primes you for excellence. Unfortunately, that excellence never comes.
Mary is next seen sitting down in a restaurant, and suddenly Gary is standing behind her with the end of his gun pressed into her skull. He is determined to kill her. This is where the fantastic first steps quickly fall away. Instead of a nuanced look at their crumbling marriage or even at their characters, Veto just parrots stereotypes, which is highlighted with Snell and Ventoliere’s exaggerated acting. The nuance in the script and drive to explore this relationship’s eccentricities is lacking. Why has their relationship fallen apart? Because Mary believes she is a bad person. Why? Because Gary is far too good for her that it’s suffocating. There's mention of an illness, but it fails to really go anywhere. Of course, there are hints of truth peppered in what Mary says, but when the film reaches a crescendo of screaming and crying, any tension built up in the first few moments instantly evaporates.
Veto is tantalising and deeply frustrating. What was an excellent premise isn’t quite followed through in the rest of the short film. Screaming and crying might be a great emotional release but illuminating on relationships, it is not.