“Annie Waits” | #SDiFF2017 Official Selection – Review

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“ANNIE WAITS” was one of many short-films that screened at this year’s SDiFF and it stood above the pack of films that were themed in the genre of comedy. Written by Chris Anastasi and directed by Marnie Paxton, the film stars April Kelley as Annie. A normal woman who unlike everyone around her does not want to follow the conventional path of finding the one. She knows what it will lead to. Traveling the world turning to sitting at home and watching television. Passionate conversations will be turned to talking about mundane topics leading to the inevitable path of marriage then of course, kids. Liberties of life Annie does not want to give up.

Short-films are always intriguing to me. I find them interesting and attention getting as the lack of run-time often heightens other angles of creativity. Some shorter projects can still manage to convey a larger timeline effectively and this is something “Annie Waits” did to incredibly comical results. The story follows Annie through a series of relationships as she journeys through the dating game and its various stages as a relationship builds.  It plays out in montage for the most part as Annie narrates and it creates an understanding of where the character is coming from and her general approach to the world of dating.

She has no desire to settle down and become part of the rest of the world by getting married and having kids. All the while everyone else around her does just that. This is a topic everyone can relate to no matter what side of the situation you sit on. This enables a natural connection to the story. It’s easy to relate to which makes the humor that much more organic. Something that is bolstered with a tightly written script that showcases a charming sense of humor.

This was the story of a woman in her prime. A woman not wanting to voluntarily leave her prime behind by getting marriage and having kids. Annie is confident in thinking she will never that let happen to her. Man, or woman, this is something that people can familiarize with as many of us see our friends having kids and settling down. Girlfriends turn to wives, boyfriends to husbands, and we tell ourselves that is never going to happen to us. Until it does.

Watching this progression through Annie’s life was outright hilarious at times because of this natural connection. One built by the combination of witty dialogue and a great performance from April Kelley. She was fantastic in this role and delivers a grounded charisma that sells her as a normal woman in her twenties, wanting to love life and have a fun charismatic routine to her days. She’s open to love, she enjoys the foundations of building a relationship, and it was comical to see her different reactions as various relationships finally hit that stage. Her delivery was nonchalant and uplifting, she never let a failed relationship get her down, and her lighthearted spirit was energetic.

From a technical aspect this film shows a great eye for comedy. It successfully takes a grounded scenario, exposes the comical threads in that situation and turns it into enjoyable humor. The world of dating is one that is as rewarding as it is relentless, and the filmmakers highlight just that in such an amusing way. It frames up the humor perfectly, doesn’t force a single note and it results in a film that will make you laugh and leave a smile on your face.

The world of cinematic comedy is not an easy place to thrive in, but the script shows a strong taste for great situational humor as it explores the, at times, vicious circle of dating. The direction complements the material perfectly, and April Kelley shows she has a bright future ahead of her with a subtle but amusing performance. If you can find this film at a festival in your neighborhood I recommend it because it was a fun, engaging story with some heart.


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