With a world still dealing with an ongoing pandemic and its various repercussions, The Package has relevant themes. Themes like seclusion, being stuck inside, and perhaps spending too much time on the sofa.
Wearing many creative hats, Melanie Thompson wrote, directed, and stars in this short film. Thompson plays Ava, a reclusive alcoholic who serendipitously reconnects with an old classmate from elementary school.
The film begins with a montage of Ava sitting on the couch, watching TV in her apartment, continuously opening multiple bottles of white wine. A knock at the door reveals a delivery man holding a box. He makes a joke about how most adult films start with this scenario. The classmate, JR (John Cannizzaro), is delivering the mysterious titular package and upon seeing plenty of empty wine bottles strewn around the apartment, he feels compelled to question why Ava is struggling. Eventually, JR does a double-take and claims he recognizes Ava from the fourth grade.
After the reunited pair recall some past memories, like JR singing Enya to a theater full of laughing students, they discuss fate and chance encounters. Their conversation moves from the past to present day where the pair question their current places in life. JR has two daughters that he rarely gets to spend time with due to his overloaded work schedule and his marriage is struggling. The two actors maintain grounded performances, keeping the screenplay mostly believable. Cannizzaro, in particular, does a solid job of being both intimidating and kind.
Thompson’s simple direction captures the ebb and flow of their conversation with a straightforward approach. This approach is effective, and the single apartment setting was helpful to turn up the tension. A lack of information on Ava’s backstory made it hard to care for or understand her struggle. It is not a straightforward drama, more mumblecore since there was a lack of action but plenty of dialogue.
Although technique and style leaves room for improvement, THE PACKAGE shows promise for the multitalented Thompson. Conversations surrounding fate and seeking connection, while being isolated, makes THE PACKAGE a universal story.