Two Persons Max
UK (2013) Dir. Tim Kent
We take another diversion down the path of the short film, this time a two hander written by and starring a promising acting talent and a former actor and casting director making the move into directing.
Two Persons Max sees glamorous Jemma (Jessica Jane Clement), a successful high flyer in the fashion industry, enter a lift already occupied by the comparative Plain Jane Katy (Billie Vee). Shortly into the journey the lift stops and Katy immediately panics. Jemma tries to calm her down to no avail until Katy stops, revealing it was just a joke. But what happens while they await help is anything but a joke.
It’s a ten minute film so the plot summary is naturally going to be brief otherwise it will just be a blow-by-blow transcript of the whole story. It’s a simple tale, taking on the age-old economy saving plot device of two people stuck together in an enclosed space, but with a curious twist – and not just due to the trapped couple being of the same gender.
This facet thankfully spares us of the usual dynamic of a hunky male and a frosty female cursing their situation, then cosying up with each other in a romantic entanglement by the end of it. Vee’s script gives little away of the direction this situation will take, despite the familiar set-up which is the hook we need to stay watching. Of course two attractive young women in a lift together is already enough of a hook for some viewers I am sure, but I digress!
Initially Katy is a quirky if unassuming passenger in the lift, not ingratiating herself too well with Jemma by looking over her shoulder and being a distracting presence. The faux panic attack after the lift stops posits Katy as one of those insufferable types who aren’t aware that their madcap humour is not as endearing or as conducive to easing the tension as they think it is. But as we have established Vee has other ideas for her confined duo.
Since this film was shot on a small budget, the simplicity of the premise is ideal but don’t mistake this as an excuse to scrimp on the ambition of the script. With the right characters anything can happen inside a confined space and that is what Vee has achieved with her script. The tropes may be common but the unique situation created for them erases such quibbles and we are fully engaged as the story plays out.
Jessica Jane Clement, familiar to many from TV shows The Real Hustle and I’m A Celebrity…, certainly fits the bill as the glam hot shot Jemma who has it all. She has great screen presence and awareness of how to use body language, but I found her dialogue delivery a little bit stilted and lacking nuance. She plays a decent victim though but from someone with professional TV acting credits I expected a little more warmth and conviction.
Billie Vee may not be as well known but her performance as Katy was the more committed of the two – rather understandable as she created the role! I found her believable in conveying the various aspects of Katy’s personality, showing a keen sense of comic timing and dramatic depth. My only issue was her accent kept slipping from clear English to one inflected with Vee’s natural Greek roots, although this might have been deliberate to fit with Katy’s unpredictable personality.
Production values are naturally modest yet the brief use of practical effects, and the lift set in particular (shot at the legendary Pinewood Studios) do little to expose this at all. The foreboding dread of an enclosed space is deftly relayed via the intimate camerawork and regular overhead shots. The overall veneer is bright and professional, and director Tim Kent maintains a steady pace while building tension over this brief run time. The sound was fine overall although being hard of hearing some of the dialogue was lost in the ambience of the lift’s compact acoustics for me.
Two Persons Max is an enjoyable way to spend 10 minutes and I hope that this film is the start of something great for all involved. It is encouraging to see the UK short film/independent scene has a movement of talented filmmakers with fresh ideas and exciting prospects of actors poised to take over in the reins in the future from the current big guns.