Short film spotlight: NO DIRECTION

Last Updated: April 19, 2014By Tags: ,

The new short “No Direction,” written and directed by UCLA film grad Melissa Finell, follows a young college graduate named Jamie, who happens to be a lesbian, as she tries to figure out what on earth she’s going to do with her brand-new philosophy degree. After some disappointing interviews and general aimlessness, Jamie falls in love with the soothing, Teutonic voice of her parents’ G.P.S. and fantasizes about all the different paths her life could take. Eventually, she reenters the real world resigned to the struggle and drudgery that is modern post-grad life and discovers that it might be exactly what she needed all along.

Those of us who graduated from college in the past few years can definitely identify with Jamie’s plight, especially in light of the poor economic conditions that college grads have found themselves tossed into since the start of the Recession. Several hilarious scenes of Jamie waiting for interviews alongside hyper-overachiever types (“I’m just back from a Fulbright in Malawi…”) pinpoint the extreme competitiveness that educated young adults currently face; even a degree from a top school doesn’t guarantee much of anything anymore, especially when one has chosen to major in something double-take worthy like philosophy (or … film studies).

Finell’s treatment of Jamie’s character (played by newcomer Harper Gernet-Girard) is completely straightforward; she is a fully realized character whose development, while hilarious, feels honest and true; her sexual orientation is accounted as an essential part of her character, not a trait to be highlighted. If only Hollywood features had the courage to present gay characters as un-histrionically as Finell does here.

“No direction” is delightfully imaginative. In a dream Jamie imagines herself working a corporate job, marrying the attractive G.P.S. woman (Flavia Prado), and having a baby (“We used artificial insemination,” Prado’s character states in her over-the-top accent). Suddenly, Jamie sees the pressures that would come with such a lifestyle; her boss yells at her, the baby starts crying, and G.P.S. woman seems much less alluring when she talks about needing money for formula and diapers.

Eventually, Jamie meets up with Rachel, another young lesbian (Rebecca Newman) who is also a recent college grad. Finell’s careful treatment of her characters and her story make this short charming and touching in just the right proportions.

“No Direction” has already racked up an impressive list of appearances, having screened at the Frameline Film Fest in San Francisco, QFest in Philadelphia, NewFest in NYC, and the LA Shorts Fest, among several others. Finell is finishing her MFA and plans on producing more shorts and, eventually, feature films. Here’s marking her down as one to watch!

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