The Lunch Date (1990)

2009 #9a
Adam Davidson | 10 mins | DVD

Short films are paid minimal attention by most people, but a good one can launch a career. Take this, for example, which won the Short Film Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1990 and the Oscar for Best Live Action Short in 1991. Writer/director Davidson may not have had a significant film career since, but he has directed episodes of Dexter, Deadwood, Grey’s Anatomy, Law & Order, Lie to Me, Lost, Rome, Shark, Six Feet Under, True Blood, and more. Not all great TV, true, but there are some outstanding series in there and it makes for an impressive CV.

If any short were to kick-start a career it would be The Lunch Date. As with many shorts, to attempt to describe the plot would be to give too much away, which would be a mistake because this is a beautifully shot (in grainy black & white) and performed tale with a distinct, yet subtle, character arc and an important, but not over-egged, moral message. There’s virtually no dialogue, everything conveyed by what Davidson does (and, importantly, doesn’t) show and the performances, particularly that of Scotty Bloch as the central Lady.

Some of the film’s power rests in a neat twist, cunningly obscured by intelligent blocking and timing of other plot elements. Personally I saw it coming, but that didn’t diminish its point. It’s also worth nothing that none of the twenty-or-so others I was watching with spotted the twist ahead of time and they all seemed to find it even more effective.

Why short films are ignored is a discussion for another time, but The Lunch Date is an outstanding example of why they shouldn’t be.

5 out of 5

The Lunch Date is available on the Cinema16: American Short Films DVD.

In 2013 it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

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