Short films matter. Vimeo wants you to know it. So do we. That’s why every week we’ll take a look at some of the short film world’s best and brightest. This week, we bring you Michael Mohan’s sensual drama Pink Grapefruit.
The Plot: A married couple invite two single friends for a weekend in the California desert.
I know, that sounds like the plot of a dozen or so romantic comedies released in the last decade or so. In truth, the opening moments of Pink Grapefruit look and feel a lot like one of those formulaic films. You know the recipe – take one happily married couple (Matt Peters and Nora Kirkpatrick), add one mildly neurotic friend (Wendy McColm), then stir in a potential suitor (Nathan Stewart-Jarett) and you’ve got tasty dish of hilariously awkward hijinks.
Don’t worry, Pink Grapefruit may begin as a formulaic rom-com, but Director Michael Mohan has something else in mind entirely. In the film’s 11 minute runtime, the skilled director takes that tried and true formula, adds a dash of romance, sprinkles it with hushed erotic energy and serves it with a side of unabashed voyeurism. The result is a seductive mix of clumsy courtship, domestic anxiety and eerie erotica. One that concisely skewers the near primal need of humans to compare their lives to the people around them.
Part of what makes Pink Grapefruit so engrossing is watching Mohan and co-writer Chris Levitus blend that need with their formulaic setup and twist it into an amorous but nervy romantic thriller. They achieve that effect by seizing on the anxious, often frightening energy that goes along with being ‘fixed up’ with someone by your friends. Mohan doubles down on uneasy energy by keeping the film’s atmosphere thick and pacing it to a sultry stillness. That tactic allows the cast to explore looks and silence as much as action and dialogue. And it allows Mohan to explore a side of these stories that most films overlook – the effect an actual connection can have on the couple that instigated it.
The director’s uncanny ability to view the story from all sides is what separates Pink Grapefruit from lesser romantic fare. It’s a film built around uneasy laughs, steamy encounters and unsettling gazes. It’s sweet and it’s sexy. At times it’s deeply unsettling. But if you’re up for the ride you’ll find it a film that has more in common with the work of Robert Altman than any of the so-called romantic comedies out there. Unlike most of those rom-coms, Pink Grapefruit works its way inside your head as much as it does your heart. And it’s likely to linger there for days after the credits roll.
Meet The Crew:
Directed by: Michael Mohan Written by: Michael Mohan & Chris Levitus Starring: Wendy McColm, Nathan Stewart-Jarett, Matt Peters and Nora Kirkpatrick Cinematography by: Elisha Christian Edited by: Christian Massini
I hope you enjoy Pink Grapefruit! And I hope you’re taking note of Michael Mohan’s name, ’cause he’s been on the verge of a breakout for a few years now. He’s no stranger to the feature film world either. Mohan served as writer and director on a couple of underrated indie comedies in recent years with One Too Many Mornings (2010) and Save The Date (2012). Somehow he hasn’t made a feature since that last film. With any luck, Pink Grapefruit will help Mohan bring his unique vision back to the big screen. Until then, you can check out some of the director’s short films and music videos over at his Vimeo page.
While you’re kicking around, check out a few of the thousands of the other short films – animated, live action and documentary – their team has curated for your viewing pleasure (via desktop or mobile device – SWEET!). You’re sure to find something interesting. And you may just stumble across the next great filmmaker.