The unexpected development of the storyline and its subsequent climax is what stands out the most in writer-director Keith Macri’s 18-minute film. A short centred on a dinner table conversation that turns from bizarre to hysterical, offering its listeners an endless source of enjoyable puns and more, Where’s Kate? is hard to compartmentalise into a genre, and dismissing it off as just another comedy would be unfair. An unexpected drama served with large portions of thrill for an audience that prefers comedy might seem more like an apt description.
A night of tacos and wine with friends to help him cope with his recent breakup is all Edward (Joshua Mormann) is looking forward to. But when his office colleagues, each coming with their own prejudiced understanding and ridiculous sense of humour, turn up with theories and questions of their own, Edward soon finds himself at his wit’s end. The humour is mostly deadpan and caustic in tone throughout the film. And each of the friends on the table offers it in their own unique style, not only breaking the possibility of monotony, but also giving each one of them their own space to shine. It would be unfair to not credit the actors Kat Evans, Shayna Duffy, Zac Biesiada, and Erik Freitas, who bring Stacey, Claire, Mike, and Cam respectively to the screen, making an otherwise breakup sob story steer clear of that course. In fact, it is purely due to this ensemble cast that the film manages to keep its audience engaged.
Edward is socially awkward, reserved and it does not help that his girlfriend has been missing for 48 hours, which has led to hasty conclusions of her having dumped him. Ergo, he must be deserving of it. Or so is the running thought. And Edward does not help us to think otherwise. The script leaves little room for any doubt too. The characters begin shredding Edward apart, and as his defence grows weaker and absurder, we too are convinced that this person is incapable of having any person be with him for that long, until we are surprised with the news of their secret elopement. What might seem like a predictable twist is at every turn deftly manoeuvred into something more absurd, and in effect, making it an incredibly engaging viewing experience.
It is unusual, and both ingenious and enjoyable how Macri brings in technology to aid the script. When false aspersions do not do enough damage to our darling Edward, in comes Alexa, Google, and algorithms that begin to narrate a tale of their own. Soon, an innocent game by the table leads to grander imaginations amongst the friends. The panic and dread quickly snowball into nightmarish levels of bedlam as police notifications come live on screen.
Where’s Kate? That such an innocent question could conjure up a story of this proportion requires talent and imagination. But to sustain it, for a film of this length, requires skill. The leitmotif used does seem overwhelming after a point, even though it does its job well. The ensemble casting is good, well balanced both in screen time, and characterisation. Ironically, it is Kate (Lisa Lam) and Edward who remain largely off the screen, which is interesting considering how much of the discussion centres solely on these two individuals.
Macri cleverly masquerades the data infringement, privacy grievances and AI versus IQ issues under the garb of humour and, truthfully, the story develops so organically around these, that it is only long after the credits roll that we are hit with the full extent of its effect. Sopheap Porng’s cinematography carries a sense of restlessness and does well to the thrilling bits of Where’s Kate? What could have seemed dreary for a bottle film is made, instead, persuasive through its cinematography and editing.
It is hard to ensure all the jokes land and have the desired effect, but when they are generously splattered across a story, one is convinced that even the impending doom can only come with a few chuckles, and perhaps it is in that expectation from his audience that Macri truly succeeds in his craft.
It is hard to ensure all the jokes land and have the desired effect, but when they are generously splattered across a story, one is convinced that even the impending doom can only come with a few chuckles, and perhaps it is in that expectation from his audience that Macri truly succeeds in his craft.Where’s Kate?: Whodunit Hidden Under Hilarious Comedy Click To Tweet