Breakdown – Short Film Review

When a man’s car breaks down, salvation doesn’t quite come in the form he was hoping for.

Written by and starring Sy Thomas and Oliver Britten, this pair come together to bring comedy to us in a classic way. Like any sketch, we begin with a dilemma, this short film showing us a man who needs to get to a christening. We assume he’s the person carrying out the service due to the Jesus based car window stickers, but then realise that he’s just a general guy. Similar in ways, the mechanic that turns up to try and fix the car is seen as a Godsend, but then he turns out to be a bumbling annoyance. Even though these characters are very different, in ways, they mirror each other. The mother of the child who’s getting christened probably sees the motorist like the mechanic, whereas the mechanic sees the desperate motorist as someone he can talk to and confide in him. I think this film is great as you can watch it, have a laugh, and move on, but you can also see it in a way that adds real meaning.

For me, this film felt like a western. To start, the colouring adds to the blue in the sky and the orange tint of the world around it. The music was fun and made me see these characters as duelling leads, wanting to take charge of the situation, but it also kept it light-hearted and comedic. I don’t know if this style was a choice or not, but I think that all these elements really worked in bringing the story to life. To learn that the short was filmed in one day by a crew of just five people, it adds to my love and joy for this story. It’s crisp and fresh, presenting a comedy sketch in a new way that keeps the audience interested throughout.

The film is directed by Dominic O’Riordan, who has won an award for his work on the short, really showing that if comedy is handled in a certain way, it doesn’t feel old and tacky. I think what I liked about this film was that the actors were trapped together, even though they could get out and walk around. It presented the viewer with a classic comedy trope but felt so different that you couldn’t help but feel slightly on edge, wanting the characters to get out and figure a solution, but also knowing that probably wouldn’t happen.

I know I’ve mentioned starting conversations, but I’d love to round off on that point. When the characters see that they’re stuck and there’s nothing that they can really do, they open up about their lives and feelings. Specially to see two men talk like this, whether it’s a thought about point for the film or not, I think seeing things like this on our screens subconsciously tell us that it’s ok for things not to be going ok and that talking about them is a good thing. The mechanic brings up his wife and children, saying he’s never spoken about these things before, and even though he’s left without thanks (even though he didn’t really do anything to help, haha), he may have finished his day feeling lighter that he was able to get these emotions out of his head. Same with the motorist, to know that your best friend’s girlfriend doesn’t want you at the christening is a tough blow, yet he knows he has to show up to prove that he’s a good guy, even if she can’t see that. Maybe I’m completely overthinking this film, or maybe I just appreciate seeing men talking about how they feel, but Breakdown is more than just a comedic short, and with its lengthy list of award nominations and wins, I surely can’t be on my own.

Whether you see this film as a conversation starter for how we feel, or just a funny award-winning comedy short, I think anyone can enjoy it and want to see more.

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