I love a short film that doesn’t waste a single frame. We open to a gun barrel down the lens of the camera and a confusing question: live longer or die faster? Alex (Stephen Friedrich) chooses the former, thankfully, or this gem might have been even shorter.
Written and directed by Philip A. Ramos, The Kidnapping of a Fish features beautiful cinematography, a wonderful score, snappy dialogue, and a deep barrel of talent. The plot, simple as it is, is told in a series of flashbacks and focuses on Alex, a mild-mannered, likeable bloke who’s in a bit of a romantic rut. Alongside Alex is Cassandra (Theodora Miranne), a lovely, skatty young woman who, quite innocently, laughs at Alex’s misfortune. Quickly, it’s established that Cassandra is harbouring a secret, one that has landed Alex in a torturer’s chair.
What sets this flick aside from a lot of short films is certainly the acting chops of Friedrich and Miranne. Their onscreen chemistry is fantastic and emotionally charged, turning what could have been a cheesy, two-dimensional romance into something that felt weighty, fast, and real. Friedrich as Alex was a charming victim; cracking jokes in the face of danger but doing so with a nervous edge, hinting at an inner dialogue private to the character. In fact, I got an Ezra Miller vibe from Friedrich, which I mean as a compliment. Miranne was equally as compelling, portraying the complexity of a woman torn very convincingly. As Cassandra she’s bright, bubbly, and cute; but later she shifts into a dangerous femme fatale, a stark contrast to her established, almost shy character. The change of gears was truly brilliant and Miranne handles the character expertly.
I have only a few gripes with the film and they’re minor. I would have liked to have seen more genuine terror from Alex, jokes are fine and it makes for fun viewing, but I don’t suppose many victims of a kidnapping would stay quite as calm for quite as long. The plot could have also been tighter in places, perhaps even more complicated, but short film is a hard medium to tell complex narratives and the beauty of this film is captured elsewhere.
All in all, The Kidnapping of a Fish is a quirky, twenty-five-minute drama/romantic comedy with a side order of thriller. It’s funny most of the way through, touching in places, and just a little bit tense, too. Absolutely the best short film I’ve seen in years.
Dir: Philip A. Ramos
Scr: Philip A. Ramos
Cast: Stephen Friedrich, Theodora Miranne, Vasile Flutur, Steve Quimby, Kalen J. Hall
Prd: John D. Hay
DOP: Patrick Phillips
Music: Danielle Merlis
Run time: 25 mins