Antiquities (Short Film) (2010)

6 Apr


Smith’s Verdict: ****

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

“Antiquities” is an independent short film that seems to have come from the mindset of aspiring writers who gain further inspiration by thinking, “I have very little money; I’ll write funny jokes.” Arkansas writer-director Daniel Campbell is obviously so intelligent a filmmaker that he’s able to get laughs by just everyday quirkiness, because the comedy in “Antiquities” comes from the oddness of a particular day at work. It’s short (with a running time of about 18 minutes), it’s funny, and it has something to say about the oddities of everyday life.

The film is centered on an awkward young man named Terrence (Jason Thompson) who works in an antiques mall. To call him socially-inept would be an understatement; Napoleon Dynamite would be more easily approachable by comparison. Campbell is not afraid of making Terrence as uncomfortable as possible. Of course, this sets the tone for the rest of the film, as Terrence interacts with his co-workers. This particular workday is Terrence’s “LAST CHANCE” day to hopefully get the courage to ask out the sole female employee, Marissa (Jennifer Pierce), on her last day at work. And apparently, the store’s standard S.O.B. Blundale (Roger Scott), who is also Terrence’s boss, is out to put his mind on other things, like a bad haircut and an inane strip joint.

There’s a feature-length film that could be made with the material in “Antiquities.” It’s the kind of material, for an offbeat, romantic comedy, that indie-film lovers love to search Internet film-forums about.

There’s a specific rhythm that adds to the charm of “Antiquities” that comes with the pacing of the story. For a film that has a lot of quirky material, everything seems to flow naturally without rushing into it. Even the characters seem fleshed out and very real, despite the fact that we follow only one (Terrence) as he interacts with the people around him—that’s the surprising part: each of the supporting characters seems realized and memorable. Aside from Blundale, we have the flamboyant Lewis (Tucker Steinmetz), lazy Ben (Matt Newcomb), “gangsta”-imitating Nathan (Jason Willey), and even Marissa herself has her own quirks.

The actors playing these characters are in tune with the rhythm of the film, making the performances praise-worthy. Jason Thompson is excellent as Terrence, and is ably supported by Roger Scott, Jennifer Pierce, Matt Newcomb, Greg Ballard, Tucker Steinmetz, and Jason Willey as his co-workers.

I mentioned “Antiquities” is quite funny, and it did get some good laughs out of me, particularly with the oddness of what seems like everyday quirks in this setting that, again going with the rhythm of the film, flow naturally, particularly when showing how much of an a-hole Blundale really is—he’s a jerk who knows he’s a jerk, and doesn’t care. And there are some great lines of dialogue here, such as when Blundale ropes Terrence into getting a haircut because “the board doesn’t like shaggy hair.” My favorite line comes when Blundale, trying to keep his mind off Marissa, takes Terrence to a strip bar, where the female stripper is too slow to impress; the stripper retorts to Blundale’s rude remarks toward her: “You try doing this when you’re three months pregnant!”

I’m not quite sure I made my point well enough in how good “Antiquities” is, and how delightful it is. But it is a very well-executed short film with a smooth comic flow and an original quirkiness in its writing and characterization. It’s a real treasure.

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