Theodore Brun, Phil Dunn
It's all true. That whole idea of knowing someone for a long time, and finally realizing that you never really knew them at all. Some of the world's worst criminals were friendly, courteous sorts all the way up until someone's bank account mysteriously emptied out - or much worse. Locals will swear they knew the culprit for years - and never would have suspected a thing. However, this concept is also true when considering less sinister or criminal motives. That man you shake hands with almost daily? May secretly hate being touched - and that hideous waste of skin that constantly rides your ass at work may, on their own time, volunteer at various homeless shelters or food kitchens in the area. You just never really, or truly know someone - and that is the basis of this short film, written by Theodore Brun and Phil Dunn.
Rebecca and Caitlin have hailed a ride from some nameless driving service, after what was apparently a stellar party hosted by their mutual friend. As the ride home stretches on, the two begin a conversation about their friend Tom, the host of the event. Both women have known him for quite a long time and little by little, they find out Tom is not the man they each think he is. One woman talks about knowing him from yoga class, and the other is completely shocked that Tom participates in yoga at all. This conversation goes on for the bulk of the film and honestly, is quite entertaining. Not because of any strange and weird stories about Tom, but simply because it really makes the viewer think outside the film. How well do you know your friends, your work friends, or even your partner? "About" really makes you wonder... all the way until the end when something really strange happens. More on that below.
For all intents and purposes, a simple tally of stars based solely on how this film looks and plays - would yield at least four of the pointy ended devils. There's no question that its visuals are splendid, it's dialog writing feels totally natural, and it sounds and is edited expertly. The concept is interesting enough, especially for a short film - and both Natasha Alderslade and Ellie Piercy completely own their respective roles. With a length in the five-minute ballpark, it's not long-winded or slow to watch. And yet there's a huge problem for me... it's regarding the ending.
"About" finishes on a cliffhanger that completely changes the dynamic of the film. Without its unusual ending, Brun and Dunn had a film that could be considered a well-done question of sorts - an experiment even. How well do we know the people we know. It could have wrapped up with the ladies saying their farewells, and been a closed topic. This ending, that I don't want to spoil, completely re-writes the apparent meaning of the movie - turning the short film aspect of "About" into the opening scene of a larger movie. Or even a series. With things the way they are, there is no act two or act three, only the introduction of a new problem. I should also add that this new problem totally washes out the ladies conversation about Tom, because "About" is no longer a short film about how well they know him - it's about something else. To write that the ending surprised me is an understatement, to write that it adds to the story would be an outright lie.
At the end of the day, "About" is a technically great production with some equally great performances. I, like many others, love a great cliffhanger but sometimes it's simply better to leave well enough alone. What "About" does right it really does right - but damn. Now, comes the real question - would I personally recommend this short flick? Yes, yes I would. I may not have been a fan of the ending but perhaps you will be and in truth, there's a lot more to "About" than the final thirty seconds. Three and a half stars.