The Handle With Care short film program at Tribeca Film Festival included shorts which featured precarious situations. For each of the films in this program balance, wisdom and steadiness were required by the protagonists. Even the faintest slip could lead to unwanted repercussions. Connections leading to consequences was the focal point for the five films (from 14 minutes to 22 minutes long), Scratch, App, Contrapelo, The Phone Call and For Spacious Sky. App was the most technically trending of the five.
App, by director and screenwriter Alexander Berman, features nerdy engineer Paul (Braden Lynch) who has developed a phenomenal app, a “go-to” gal who is omniscient and omnipotent in providing information and serving it up faster than the speed of light. However, to finalize and launch his brilliant beauty, Paul needs venture capital and. unless he is able to convince angel investor Mike who his wingwoman has indicated is the most susceptible to his creation, Paul’s financial standing, his hopes, and hard work will collapse in on itself and all will be lost.
Mike (JR Cacia) who is sex starved arranges to meet Paul at a hot club where he gets shot down by a beautiful girl just as Paul walks in the door. Pissed and in a bad mood, Mike doesn’t want to hear any long explanations or even get into the app himself. Instead, he gives Paul a challenge based on his wounding by the cold B*%CH. If the app helps him go home with the woman who just obliterated him and then seduce her into bed and sex, he’ll lay out the capital for Paul gladly.
Mike who is arrogant and attractive and thinks himself the antithesis of Paul figures this glasses-wearing developer can’t win and will be in emotional pieces by the end of the evening. If this wingwoman app can get him into a conversation with the beautiful B*%CH that lasts for more than 5 minutes, Paul will be really fortunate. If he goes home with the woman whose name we later discover is Zoe (Sara Sanderson), and gets anywhere near her bedroom, it will truly be a miracle. But as Mike has learned from the school of hard knocks in the culture of success, there are no gods but money, status, and appearance, so it’s a no brainer. Paul is doomed to fail and Mike will keep his money.
Part of the fun of App is in how Berman turns Mike’s superficial values on their head and uplifts the principles that Paul demonstrates as a wise and caring human being. As a result we empathize with his plight. Though the characters are stereotyped, they do reveal more depth and precision by the end. The screenplay is tightly written, and its conciseness creates an appropriate level of suspense to engage us in hoping for Paul’s success. Likewise, in drawing the character of the wingwoman app, Berman gives her dialogue and action just enough humanity, cleverness, and humor to make us not resent her omniscience. In fact, as she helps Paul achieve success after success with Zoe, we are grateful for her guidance and want an app just like her. But then there are the consequences.
How does this all end? Does Paul win the challenge and does he reveal what the challenge is to Zoe, before or after he has the money in his pocket? What will happen to the app if he is unable to put money into his account to keep her “alive” and working for him until the bitter end which is? Alexander Berman has created a smart and savvy short film that pleasantly unzips your assumptions. It also begs the question about having at our fingertips all the information we could ever desire to know about individuals, adding the element of safety and eliminating the possibility of failure. On the other hand one would be eliminating the element of serendipitous discovery which is the spice of life. Though App is somewhat predictable at the end, this short film elicits your empathy and in its hopefulness it does not disappoint.
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