The intrigue of counseling sessions is that they explore what is and what could be. Even the darkest thoughts imaginable can be shared with a therapist, and each patient comes up with his or her goal. All that being said, I’ve never seen a therapy session go quite like the one in Andronicus. Thankfully, this is just a short film that plays out like a fever dream crossed with an episode of Criminal Minds. And I mean that as mostly a compliment.
The metronome ticks away and teenage son Simon (Kimball Farley) is sitting in his spacious home with his bitter parents and the family therapist. If that isn’t tense enough, Simon is holding a pistol as he sets the terms, the other characters speaking as if they are all trapped in a nightmare where their responses are orchestrated by Simon. To this, I have to give writers Mark and Jonathan Rapaport credit. Writing characters in our logic-based present is difficult enough. Writing them in a sort of warped reality and allowing it to flow well is another beast altogether.
This is a short so I won’t give too much away, though, it isn’t an easy watch. Some may find it distasteful but I can’t fault the filmmakers for showing something horrific that is still managing to create a dialogue like this. The acting is good and requires a lot of trust in the audience. The fact that the parents are played by husband and wife Eric and Eliza Roberts could certainly lead to discussions on what roles partners should play with one another. Given what happens, perhaps it is better to perform these scenes with a spouse.
This is not an accurate look at the average teenager but, in my opinion, a play on the whirlwind of confusion, mistrust, and damage that can ensue from an unhappy household. Add to that curiosity and puberty and you have a short film that will shock some, but will certainly be talked about. The hope is that it is in a productive way.
Are there any complaints? For some, the issues at play here could be discussed with a smaller runtime, though, as a director, Mark Rapaport thankfully doesn’t seem to linger too long in my opinion. There is a moment where Simon tells his father (Eric Roberts) to open his eyes and I felt like I had missed something. You don’t usually tell someone that when all you’re seeing is their back. Perhaps he was reading his father’s actions like a book or it was a simple camera mistake. No matter. This is a decent short film full of tragedy like the story from which it derives its name.
Watch Andronicus and access other great films at the Fantasia International Film Festival here which runs through August 25, 2021.
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