SXSW Short Film Review: Single is a biting commentary on living with a physical disability

*The AU Review will continue with its planned SXSW 2020 coverage.  We have been in contact with the respective representatives for available films in order to give them the coverage they intended.

Proof that more than enough can be conveyed in a fraction of the time of a standard feature, Ashley Eakins‘ short-feature Single is a biting commentary on the day-to-day reactions regarding someone with a disability.

It’s quite a feat for Eakins, the writer/director herself having a physical disability, to convey evident decades of one’s own reaction to forced compassion from surrounding strangers into the space of a matter of literal minutes; Single clocks in at 15.

Born with one arm but no less attitude, Kim (Delaney Feener) has clearly faced her share of faux compliments over time; “God bless, sweetie”, she’s not-so-genuinely told by the local grocer.  “You are so rude” is Kim’s honest, and slightly bratty, response.

In those seconds of exchange we garner all we need to know about Kim, and though Eakins’ script flirts dangerously with placing its focus on an unlikeable personality, the hard exterior she has had to build proves a defence mechanism more so than the fact that she’s just angry at the world – even though she has every right to be.

In a sequence that further hardens Kim’s persona, before softening it quite tenderly, she sets out on a blind date with the rather handsome Jake (the rather handsome Jordan Wiseley).  A few sips in to their respective drinks and Kim is ready to bail when she learns Jake only has one hand.  It’s a hypocritical move, but it’s one the movie explains, and it’s when the two unload their grievances at the world that Single showcases its natural state of heart.

There’s an undeniable chemistry between Feener and Wiseley that Eakins rightfully utilises the best she can; the two rattling off prerequisites of primary “must haves” for their hopeful romantic partner only makes you wish Single was a longer experience.  And given that both actors are similarly disabled, there’s an honesty in their performances that only adds to the film’s ultimate endearment.

At the end of the day – or in this case, the end of the film (it’s a fantastically defiant shot) – equality is what everyone seeks, and that’s ultimately the message Single strives to relay.  A compliment can obviously go a long way if meant with genuine intent, but a “God bless”, the offer of a free drink, or a passing accolade in an elevator can secure the opposite reaction should the person you’re praising sense your able-bodied bullshit.

FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Peter Gray

Film critic with a penchant for Dwayne Johnson, Jason Momoa, Michelle Pfeiffer and horror movies, harbouring the desire to be a face of entertainment news.

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