We all know that guy, the juiced-up jock at the gym who vocally lifts weights and treats working out like spiritual enlightenment. He talks louder, lifts heavier and won’t shut up about breaking through the pain. Most of us would find this person off-putting and do everything to get away from him, but writer/director Luke Masella throws him right in our faces and gives us a brief glimpse into the damaged human beneath the façade.
We meet the unnamed weightlifting enthusiast (Aaron Latta-Morissette) just as he’s admonishing his spotter (Giovanni Ore) for attempting to help him. He takes a break between weightlifting sets and they talk. He’s aggressive and arrogant, lecturing the obviously younger spotter on what it takes to build muscle growth. When the spotter innocently begins asking personal questions, however, the tough musclehead exterior begins to crack, revealing a lifetime of pain.
As the focal point, Latta-Morissette draws us into his character’s inner anguish. We feel his uncertainty and turmoil as the conversation turns darker and his intensity grows. He allows us to see the human hiding behind the walls he’s put up around himself over the years. Though mostly in the background, Ore proves to be an interesting foil to the weightlifter’s ego as he innocently asks questions.
Masella has truly crafted a compelling film that forces us to rethink someone we thought we knew and ultimately reevaluate ourselves. He keeps the camerawork tight and erratic as the weightlifter digs deeper into his claustrophobic past. Aside from a few interruptions from the spotter, the script is mostly the weightlifter’s monologue which blossoms with layers until we finally get to the core and actually feel some empathy for this guy. In a mere nine minutes, we’re exhausted just from trekking through this private hell.
The best art makes us question ourselves. With two characters and less than ten minutes Luke Masella not only makes us question what we know – but become better people in doing so. That’s no small feat for a young filmmaker looking to make his mark. Let’s see what he can do with a feature.