Indie Shorts Double Feature: Charity, A Perfect Life
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As a film critic, I spend a whole lot of time in theaters, taking in full-length features that are backed by big-name studios and produced for millions of dollars. I also try to take in as many independent films as possible, too—even schlepping off to film festivals to hunt for little-known gems. All too often, though, I overlook short films—often because they simply don’t provide me with enough material for a full-length review. But that doesn’t mean that shorts aren’t worthwhile. Because while they’re not all cinematic gems, they do sometimes showcase the talents of young—or relatively unknown—filmmakers.

So I’ve decided to make this week’s column an indie shorts double feature, highlighting a pair of shorts that you can find online at EyeSoda.com.

  
 

Charity

Charity (Allie Raye) may not have the perfect life, but she tries not to let it get her down. From the minute she wakes up in the morning, she surrounds herself with positive thinking, repeating self-affirming messages to herself as she goes about her daily routine. But little does she know, as she gets ready for work one morning (all the while promising that today will be a better day), that everything’s about to fall apart.

Charity’s car has been repossessed—but that’s just the beginning. As she continues through her worst day ever, she tries to stay positive—but maybe there’s just so much that one woman can take.

A low-budget indie short (which clocks in at around 14 minutes), Charity may not have the usual Hollywood polish, but it does have its share of light-hearted, low-budget charm.

The story is short and simple—and it gets its point across without trying to cram too much in. It does get needlessly heavy during one particularly dark scene, but, throughout the rest of the film, Raye makes her down-and-out heroine immensely watchable. She’s upbeat without being too bubbly or dim-witted—and, although she tries to take everything in stride, even she breaks down from time to time. Charity is likeably imperfect—and, despite her obvious faults, you can’t help but like her anyway. Raye, meanwhile, handles the comedic scenes particularly well—and she never makes the mistake of taking herself (or her character) too seriously.

So although Charity does have its flaws and its limitations, it works well with them. It doesn’t try to do too much—or be something it’s not. Instead, it’s just an entertaining short, made enjoyable by its unconventional heroine.


A Perfect Life

If you buy a ticket to see Charity on EyeSoda.com, you’ll also get to screen an additional short, A Perfect Life, also starring Allie Raye. In this quirky low-budget musical comedy, Raye plays Charly, another imperfect heroine—a full-figured single woman who dreams of having a perfect life, like her sister, Marla (Andrea Knaub), who has a loving husband and four perfect kids. But, of course, as the old saying goes, “The grass is always greener…”

Like Charity, A Perfect Life is understandably limited by its budget constraints. Once again, it’s lacking that professional polish. The story, too, has been done before. But the varied musical numbers—and their amusing lyrics—make it stand out.

Especially in the beginning, the writing is sharp and witty—and even though Raye sometimes pushes her tone-deaf comedy a bit too far, she makes her part of the film fun to watch. Unfortunately, though, once the story turns to Knaub, it seems to slide into a rut—and it stays there for the rest of the film.

Still, even though the clever wit of the beginning of the short slips into the unremarkable antics of a desperate housewife, the first few minutes alone make A Perfect Life worth checking out—especially if you, too, know what it’s like to be an imperfect heroine.

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