At the moment of mutual consent, one night stands all probably seem like a good idea. Then the morning arrives, and in all likelihood, there’s going to be awkwardness. Well, Tom, also referred to as Him (Ben Cura), really set himself apart. Sonya, also referred to as Her (Jillian Mercado), literally falls out of bed in the morning and his reaction gives rise to the title of the 15 minute short by Nathan Morris. “My Eyes are up Here,” Mercado implores, and pulling back, shortened arms and limbs reveal a disability that is the source of her reply. A perfectly timed deadpan by the way, the groundwork has been laid. This little romcom will uplift and entertain, and the only disabilities that will stand out are the everyday variety that we all have.
And he has plenty. Being an overgrown boy is probably the biggest and in emoting a naiveté that truly delights, Cura really doesn’t even consider the challenges of prolonging a relationship like this. Of course, the adolescent clumsiness that Cura delivers in movement, demeanor and discourse implies it would be the same no matter who he brought home.
No surprise, Sonya plays contrast as the grownup, and it is quickly established that this wheelchair bound disability does not have her looking for special consideration. So much so that the successful model is absolutely revulsed when Tom tries to help her off the floor. “What are you doing?” Mercado’s condescension really stings.
So being of very sound mind (and nearly body), Sonya is the one rushing to the exit and seeking to cut the awkwardness off at the pass. Thus, the push and pull of one party more dialed in than the other is set in full swing and we get to dance the two-step.
Then we get some actual real life drama. The duo realize the condom has broken, and given her condition, the consequences can be dire. No matter, they both stay on point. She’s in desperate need of the morning after pill, and due to his shortsighted cluelessness, Tom offers to buy her coffee. No beat missed, the comedic capital continues to skyrocket.
These two are not alone in the world, though, and through the inabilities of others, we get more than comedy. The interactions range from unintentionally insensitive to one full on verbal assault, and Sonya’s reactions in kind brings exposition to a level of its own.
When her boss Lillian (Pooky Quesnel) unknowingly levies an insult, Sonya counters with grace. But for two young girls who exhibit an almost unbelievable amount of cruelty – take cover. Mercado keeps her cool, and in striping away all the powerful emotions that should come flying out, she carves up her victims (Ellie Uragallo and Natalia St. John-Porther) with the precision of a skilled surgeon.
Unquestionably, Sonya is a woman of means that you don’t want to mess with, and Tom actually sees what prolonging this relationship entails. In this, Sonya has overshot the mark, and the shared moment of pain and perseverance gives way to a fact that cannot be denied.
Real feelings are in play for both of them. Maybe more for her, Mercado does not require words to convey that heartbreak at some later date is a possibility, and through her uncertain expression, we see the dire need is to proceed with caution.
The cinematographic lighting by Martyna Knitter reiterates the sentiment. All enduring relationships are a myriad of darkness, shadows and life giving illumination. So as the bus meanders its route and the couple navigate the landscape, the lighting takes all those forms, and a question is posed.
Should they take a chance? The melancholy and ambiguous score doesn’t provide an answer, either, and all our fragile hearts wish there was some reassurance. So Tom does what he can. “My Eyes are up here,” we hear for a third time. Only this time we’re not overcome by laughter. We just know there’s another everyday on the way, and Sonya and Tom are going to have to sort through it – just like everyone else.