Lactown (2022) Short Film Review

★★★★

Directed by: #SamuelCarlCohen

Written by: #SamuelCarlCohen

Starring: #KrisSalvi, #StevieBurstein

Short Film Review by: Emily Davison


In this debut experimental short film, a simplified plot concerns a wheelchair bound old man attempting to get his and his son’s life back on the track, but the stubborn son is uninterested in accepting his help.

Lactown (2022) is an American comedy/drama, with a dark inventive twist and running at about twenty three minutes. First time director and writer Samuel Carl Cohen is a self taught film maker from Massachusetts and his short is currently being shown at several film festivals across the world.

The short presents a series of odd circumstances and surreal moments of dreamlike scenarios, which revolve around a father and son who barely have a relationship. The father clearly expresses an interest in helping his sloth-like son find a decent job, instead of lazing about all day, but the son is too set in his ways. The narrative is set in two parts, with the first setting up a context of sorts by introducing us to its leads and the second part focuses more on the son, as he reminisces about specific faces and events from his past in an almost talking head documentary format.

As the film is quite flexible with its experimental style, there is a bizarre overtone throughout in regards to the visuals and unconventional, unpredictable plot. Cohen utilises black and white cinematography and there are certainly a couple of shots which spring to mind when reflecting on the short, such as milk being poured into a large glass in a close-up on a black background.

The short certainly excels with its comedy, displaying a playful self-awareness to its humorous moments which leads to hilarious results. One example comes with the old man being served the large glass of milk with some Cookie Crisp by a younger foreign lady, who is apparently dating him. Quirky classical music which scores the film throughout definitely enhances the experimental visuals, elevating the humour, which can be quite vulgar at times. One odd sequence takes place in a forest involving two women, an encounter with a future version of the son and a gorilla costume and later on, breast milk becomes the punch line of a visual gag. The short will not land for many as a result, but it is hard to not be charmed by it all.

The film-makers demonstrate much creative flair through direction, editing and performances. The small cast all play their roles straight, despite the often strange and eyebrow raising circumstances their characters find themselves in. As with many films of this style, much is presented and offers many opportunities for interpretation. Although there is no conventional plot as such, the film remains fascinating and enduring due to this play with imagery and the on point performances from the cast. An ironic ending draws the story full circle by raising the idea of the son attempting to flee from his lazy lifestyle and his overbearing father, only to remain trapped in an endless cycle.

Lactown will likely confuse many audience members with its inventive, non mainstream film making style, however much of the short’s most endearing qualities can be found here and is worth the watch for any film fan.


#EmilyDavison

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