Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the suspenseful short THE BRIDGE PARTNER by writer/director Gabriel Olson. To best describe the story, I will use a slightly modified IMDB plot summary:
“A timid housewife is put on edge when she believes she hears her new bridge partner threaten her life.”
Honestly, this was my favorite short I had the pleasure of seeing at the Boston Underground Film Festival. This was a wonderful slow burn that never turns violent, but still manages to have a lot of bite and a fantastic finale. There was something about the tension that just enthralled me in a way that still has me thinking about it today; nearly ten days later.
Much of the success of this short stems from the general idea of someone who is unpopular, Mattie, finally becoming friends with a member of the upper echelons of society. It becomes clear early on that this high society lady might have some devious intentions behind her kindness towards Mattie; unless, of course, it is all in Mattie’s head. Playing up the notion that our lead feels physically threatened by someone with more class gives this an edge over similar fare. It also serves to highlight how disparity between classes can lead one class to feel like it is being hunted by a predator.
As our protagonist/prey, Mattie, as played by Beth Grant, is the perfect mix of awkward social interactions combined with wide eyed innocence. she serves as the linchpin of the entire production as her social outcast status makes it easy for the audience to identify with her character. The fact that she, and all the rest of the cast, is someone nearing retirement age adds an interesting dimension to her role, since she is someone trying to connect as she moves into this new phase in her life. This makes each missed social cue and each failed attempt at relating to others feel much like the first year of high school, but with all the promise of a brighter future gone from the equation.
Olivia, played by Sharon Lawrence, is the perfect foil to Mattie as she seems completely put together and in control. Her cool demeanor leads one to believe that she is kindly taking the broken bird under her wing, but the possible implications of her whispered threat imply a much more sinister endgame. That we are not entirely certain which reality is true comes down to the wonderfully charismatic performance by Mrs. Lawrence which highlights her character’s compassion while hinting at a more competitive nature.
The ending is absolutely splendid. I really cannot say much more other than the fact that the final conversation between the two women felt charged with a clear purpose of portraying class disparity while also bringing to light each woman’s intentions. It was funny, it was tense, and it had one final surprise that left me entirely satisfied with the buildup.
All in all, this is a very engrossing short that shines a light on how class issues never seem to change. The stellar performances combined with the engaging finale make this a short worth seeking out. Fans of social satires like THE SHAPE OF THINGS (2003) or psychological predator fare like HANNIBAL (2013) will love this short.