SXSW 'Single' Review: A gem of a story that shows how a person with a disability looks at herself and others
You are at the grocery store check out counter and the woman behind you is on a call. She sees your daughter drop her doll and bends down to pick it up for her, but instead of thanking the woman, the little girl ends up staring at the woman. The mother is scandalized because she realizes that her daughter is staring at a woman with one arm. So how do you react? Do you tell your daughter not to be rude? Do you apologize to the woman in question? Or do you express your sympathies and offer to help when she hadn't asked it of you?
Kim (Delaney Feener) is the woman in question and it is her life or a slice of it, that is portrayed in the short film 'Single'. The title represents, her single-arm, her relationship status and the single hand of the man that she gets set up with on a blind date. Kim is unaware that the man that she is about to meet has one hand. She isn't informed by the righteous friend of her mother's who set Kim up on this date thinking that she would belong with someone "like" her.
This angers Kim so much that it bubbles over onto her date. She makes it clear to the guy that she is on a date with. Jake (Jordan Wiseley) doesn't look surprised though and Kim is uncomfortable to continue with the facade of being on this date and does what everyone else would have done. Not! She skips out the backside and tries to bail on Jake. It is hilarious that the short would use a response hypothetically reserved by insensitive individuals as a way to express how absurd Kim feels. It is dark but funny and it is this that brings Kim and Jake together for a few hours.
They are both individuals who have been treated "differently" and this has led to their cynical outlook about life. Kim is told that she is too picky as if she doesn't deserve to be. Jake is asked to put his hand in his pocket in every family photo. The two of them pondering how exactly they want to be treated by the people in their lives, find solace in each other's relatable life stories. There are quite a few laughs and the film is made to call out the conflicting thoughts of Kim and thankfully, it's NOT a love story of any kind. It rather successfully highlights the complexities involved in dating while being a disabled person.
While she herself refuses to be labeled or tick a box, she is unable to move beyond Jake's disability. In fact, Jake even manages to call out how she sees herself as "lesser" when compared to others and that is why she also gets angry when people reiterate her thoughts with their actions. For just one moment, Kim is unable to counter because it is true and it is this moment that captures the essence of the short beautifully.
'Single' won a special jury recognition at the SXSW festival. Written and directed by Ashley Eakin, the 15-minute short succeeds in drawing out a few good laughs as we watch the two engage in their bitter, realistic view of human nature.