The Test, Written by Loris Simon
The Test is a short screenplay written by Loris Simon about a perfectionist’s breakup. From her position at the helm of her company dealing with clients cheerily and confidently, Melissa’s life appears perfect. Her poise on the telephone seems to fool even herself, but as soon as the interaction is over, reality emerges through the facade. Her boyfriend has dumped her. Her life is falling apart. She calls him over and over again and leaves text messages which go unanswered. Gerard, the heartbreaker, ignores the calls, awakening sometimes from naps at home, opening one eye to see who’s calling, or taking a look at his phone whilst participating in a business dinner. He puts the phone on vibrate, or else pays the ringing no mind.
‘Absolutely Kevin’, she says through smiling teeth into her office telephone, ‘you can count on that… Oh you have nothing to thank me for, that is what I build this company on: trust, transparency, and vision’. But the screenplay instructs us that ‘The moment she hangs up, her smile evaporates’. It’s all an illusion, and the promise of trust and transparency she ensures her clients emerges disingenuous. But the memorabilia in her office testify to the way her community views her. A framed newspaper article headlines ‘Women on the Rise: Melissa Danton’. But her professional success cannot shield her from her personal heartbreak. She does not stop trying to contact Gerard, but eventually — after a yoga class — she turns from desperation to a more tempered expression of grief. Things get ugly, though, when she turns to drastic means in an attempt to get him back.
It’s a great story that makes excellent use of the short film as its medium, where a lot of information is conveyed in a short amount of time, and the camera provides a shapshot of a private world at a pivotal moment in time. There is virtuallly no dialogue in the film, which leaves a lot to the imagination but also forces the communicatory elements of the script to convey what is missing in dialogue. Melissa loses control when she loses her relationship, and there is an intense dissonance between the perfection with which she conducts herself in her public affairs and the desperation that expresses her inner turmoil and defines her reaction to it. Melissa’s face is described often as ‘expressionless’, so that the emotion behind her actions comes not from what she says or overt expressions of emotion, but in the way she does these things. Even from the script, her pain is palpable through the numbness with which she resolutely does what she believes needs to be done to save herself. The film is shocking to the end, and when it finds production will require excellent actors to bring the drama to life. ■
Length: 3 pages
Genre: Dramatic Short
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Loris Simon is creative director for Literal Magazine, Latin American Voices, director of the feature documentary Ensoulment, director of the Literally Short Film Awards, and co-host of the podcast Literally Everything.
This critical review was commissioned and sponsored by the filmmaker.
Featured Image: iStock.com/LiliGraphie