Directed by: Divoni Simon
Written by: Isabel Kruse, Chase Michael Pallante, Divoni Simon
Cast: Sean A. Kaufman, Kim Paris, Darleen Rae Fontaine, Rae’l Ba, Joshua St. Leger, Albee Castro, Terrence Keene
Runtime: 34 minutes 13 seconds
“The puzzle of life is for ones self discovery.”
Roger is an unemployed, weed smoking layabout that spends his days watching cartoons in his dressing gown. When he’s not doing that, he’s trying to chat up women in the street – so as you can imagine, he’s got no interest in having responsibilities or commitments. His care-free world is rocked when his ex, Sadie, appears on his doorstep with a young son he never knew he had. Not being able to cope with Roger’s lifestyle and attitude, Sadie walks out on him, leaving her son in the incapable hands of Roger. But when his son falls ill, Roger’s situation hits him like a truck and he has to make a decision – to continue swerving any and all responsibilities thrown his way, or to step up to the plate and be a father to his son.
The entire film takes place in Roger’s house, and the only colour in it is his Rastafarian flag dressing gown, which it appears he practically lives in. In a way, the state of the house reflects Roger’s current lifestyle – boring, plain, and there’s no effort put into it. It’s a fitting and well suited environment for this character, and the story that develops.
Kaufman delivers a first-rate performance as Roger, nailing both the lax, detestable character we see at the beginning and the Roger we get a glimpse of towards the end of the film. I won’t go into spoiler territory in this review because I implore you to seek out this film when you can to watch it for yourself. Roger is definitely a character I would love to have seen a bit more depth to, especially towards the end of the film. Granted, the film’s runtime will have been a major factor here as we also had to be introduced to a number of different characters – but I would watch a feature-film based on this screenplay and characters in a heartbeat.
Kim Paris’ brief performance as Sadie came off very natural, and whilst I would have loved to have seen more of her, her limited screen time was well utilized as she helps develop the plot, as well as give us some more information about Roger and his life. Joshua St. Leger plays the role of Junior, and whilst his lines are very limited, the rest of his performance draws out the more heartwarming moments in the film when he shares the screen with Kaufman.
Another mention has to go to Terrence Keen, who plays Doctor Riccard. Riccard is called to Roger’s house when Junior falls ill, and it’s he who is the voice of reason to try make Roger understand the detrimental effect his refusal to be a parent will have on young Junior in his future life. The character of the Doctor was a very brave and ambitious inclusion, but the character and his scenes were executed well enough in this short to not feel out of place in such a story. I’m sure once you watch for yourself, you’ll understand what I mean.
It’s evident from the bloopers and behind-the-scenes footage that play alongside the credits that the cast and crew had a lot of fun making this film, and this is evident in the end product, which is well shot, acted, and edited. These were a great addition and personally I love the inclusion of behind the scenes stuff in film’s credits so it ticked yet another box for me.
‘Maturing Youth’ definitely has taken some inspiration from films before it (one example that instantly sprung to mind was ‘Big Daddy’), but as a ‘dramedy’ short it works incredibly well, leaning more on the drama aspect aspect than the comedy. This works in the film’s favour as the humour it does provide doesn’t feel shoe-horned in. The strong performances from it’s cast, along with a solid screenplay and direction, make this a truly wonderful short film that has a lot of heart… and it left me wanting more!