Written, directed, and edited by Ryan Oksenberg, Teardrop, inspired from real-life events, is a mind-boggling, inquisitive short on a seemingly good samaritan’s gesture that eventually gets the best of him. Too bizarre to be considered real, too far-fetched to be considered fictional, the film, all of 9:36 minutes, leaves its audience grappling with fear, humour and incredulous self-awareness. With most of its screen time divided between the two protagonists, the film is, essentially, a drama that interlays societal prejudices and notions into its narrative that then takes off into an unexpected tangent.
Humour is the pleasant and surprising outcome of this Oksenberg film, primarily due to the absurdity of the sequence of its events. Will Madden, who plays Alex, bumps into Marc Avery, who plays the homeless Derek as he returns from a gathering of friends. Two beers in, his unsteady feet bring him to Derek, who is trying to find a cosy spot for the night. Cinematographer and colourist J. D. Butler brings the back alleys to life. Without dramatising them, the strewn garbage and the makeshift house of someone tossed out to the margins of society sets the stage for the narrative. The unpleasant meeting between the two—Alex accidentally throws up on Derek—leads to a very remorseful Alex offering a chance to make up for the mess he made. It seems genuine, it seems like the right thing to do. But do all right decisions lead to the ideal outcome?
Joan Vilà’s composition stays in the background, never stepping ahead of its intent, and takes us into the mind of a visibly uncomfortable Alex, who introduces himself and his apartment to the homeless man. There is an arresting, almost intimidating aura to Derek, that Avery picks up on very well. Months of living on the streets can do that to someone. Alex, whose acting ambitions, and white privilege have insulated him from the harsher realities of life, thinks of this as the ideal opportunity to have “real-life experiences”. And what better way to have them than invite someone, a total stranger, into one’s house and offer them the best of your hospitality while stealthily hoping to imbue their experiences, but remaining selfishly unwilling to share one’s own.
Things quickly snowball from awkward to uncivil, to dangerous confrontations. If Alex had the good sense to keep note of a knife in case things escalate, he certainly did not have the sense to not look into someone’s belongings. The characters, both utterly flawed, and wronged by their circumstances, come to near blows, but at this point we begin to wonder if this is simply the characters that are at odds, or what they represent. Underneath all this, one becomes acutely aware of privileges and repercussions of being born into a sheltered life, as well as the shrewdness one must develop as a have-not.
The baffling climax, although by now dreadfully predictable, still hits us as the realisation dawns that not all charitable acts are met with kindness and appreciation, and perhaps not all kindness is charitable. Madden and Avery bring forth texture and a certain nuanced restraint to their performances, which makes them the characters we want to root for. The bizarre, unexpected twists of this film works, because deep down we know, this is a possibility, and not a distant one, at that.
Watch Teardrop Short Film Trailer
Teardrop: A Psychological Drama On Abuse Of Help