Short films matter. Vimeo wants you to know it. So do we. That’s why every week we’ll take a look at some of the short film world’s best and brightest. This week, we bring you Gabriel Olson’s psychological thriller The Bridge Partner.
The Plot: A shy woman’s world unravels when she feels threatened by her new bridge partner.
The Film: The Bechdel Test is one that not many films – feature or otherwise – can stand up to. The Bridge Partner doesn’t just stand up … it drives a three inch heal right through it.
Why Press Play?
Those heals belong to a pair of seasoned actors – Beth Grant (Speed, No Country For Old Men) and Sharon Lawrence (NYPD Blue, Monk) – who’ve spent the majority of their careers stealing scenes with secondary roles in TV and movies. The Bridge Partner gives the duo a rare chance to take center stage. They do not waste the opportunity.
That’s particularly true of Grant. The veteran actor shines as the mousey housewife at the center of The Bridge Partner. Her Mattie is the very definition of ‘Plain-Jane’. But Grant effortlessly imbues Mattie with a rich inner world of wants and desires. She also captures the pain that stems from a life that has all but passed her by. She sees all of those things reflected in flawless visage that is Olivia. Lawrence exudes a level of polish and confidence as the titular ‘partner’ that bleeds through every simmering smile and steely glance (her ‘sheep and dogs’ monologue in the film’s final moments is straight up Oscar-worthy). From the moment these two disparate women meet, an unexpected battle of wits is set in motion. Director Gabriel Olson captures every unnerving moment with a giddy sense of calm.
For his part, Olson is wise enough to step back and let his actors lead that battle. And he’s smart enough to let the strength of his source material do most of the dramatic heavy-lifting. Olson adapted the story from a short written by Peter S. Beagle (best known for the 1982 fantasy epic The Last Unicorn). Long acknowledged as one of America’s finest fantasy writers, Beagle tackles a real world story in The Bridge Partner without a hint of fantasy trope. He finds as much humor and horror in the nervy tale as any in his fanciful oeuvre. Olson takes that story and gives it a torrid, noir-ish twist and DP Robby Baumgarnter (The Guest, Blair Witch) enhances every anxious second with a hypnotic mix of frosty lighting, eerie slow zooms and invasive close-ups. The result is a searing, slow-burn of a short film that feels complete but still leaves you wanting more. What else could you ask for in under 14 minutes?
Meet The Crew:
Adapted & Directed by: Gabriel Olson From A Short Story By: Peter S. Beagle Starring: Beth Grant, Sharon Lawrence & Robert Forster Director Of Photography: Robby Baumgartner Music by: Miles Hankins
I hope you enjoy The Bridge Partner! Gabriel Olson’s film has spent much of 2015 and 2016 playing festivals throughout the world. It even scored a couple of wins at the Catalina Film Festival and The Comic-Con Int’l Indie Fest. No word yet on how Olson plans to follow this clever little film. Odds are he’ll dive back into his regular gig working on music videos and commercials until he makes that call. If you can’t wait until that follow up feel free to cruise on over to his Vimeo page and have a look at some of that work. While you’re kicking around, be sure and check out a few of the thousands of other short films – animated, live action and documentary – the Vimeo team have made available for your viewing pleasure (via desktop or mobile device – SWEET!). You’re sure to find something interesting and you may just stumble across the next great filmmaker.