In the award winning short film, PERSISTENCE, there is a character named Sean. He’s an average white male in his early 30s. He likes a girl that he works with named Brooke. He’s smitten. So he attempts to court her. He tries his “charm” on her and feels that they could be really good together. After being turned down by Brooke for a date, he doesn’t let that dissuade him. He feels that eventually she’ll see the error of her ways and soon enough she’ll say yes. He is determined to get this girl. Perhaps if she’s see how much he likes her, then she will eventually like him.
This premise sounds like a lot of Hollywood romantic comedies in the last 90 years! Guy meets girl at work. Guy likes girl. Guy goes above and beyond to get girl. Eventually she says yes to a date, realizes how great a guy he is, fall in love, and live happily ever after. How many times have we watched a film like this?
- The Notebook
- There’s Something About Mary
- Crazy, Stupid, Love
- The Graduate
- New York, New York
- Love Actually
- Say Anything
- 50 First Dates
I just named 10 films on the top of my head without even trying. And I’m sure there are at least 50 more. Think about all of the high school films from the last 25 years. Tons of stalking is normal scenarios. And we can do another list in the 100s of the TV shows with creepy stalking.
And this is what PERSISTENCE is all about. “Normalizing” the creepy guy courting girl concept and showing things from the stalkee perspective. Bottomline, writer/director Krista Barzso is telling a story about abuse. Her character (Brooke) is having a nice first date. She’s happy and excited about the moment. Perhaps this date will lead to something more, or perhaps not. The date gets spoiled because Sean arrives with one more attempt to “get” his girl. Now he’s showing up in random public situations because he feels that’s what he needs to do to finally land Brooke.
PERSISTENCE is a perfect 12 minute short film. It tells us a scenario that we’re all familiar with and flips it on his head. And it doesn’t spoonfeed the emotions to the audience. It gives us enough so we can come up with our own conclusions. It shows the film from three unique perspectives. Sean, the abuser. Brooke, the one who is being stalked and abused. And Alex, Brooke’s date who is seeing things from the audience’s perspective – that Sean is fucked up. Sean’s not technically breaking any laws, but he’s definitely doing a criminal act.
Nicely directed by Neil Schell who balances the reactions from all three characters and gives them each a deep emotional journey and arc. Schell starts the film from the stalkers point of view as Brooke and Alex enter the coffee shop in that way a first date couple do. Happy but not totally comfortable with each other yet. Generally a normal person would see this and leave them alone. Not Sean. He’s determined!
All that said, this is Krista Barzso’s film. She wrote a terrific script, which is probably a personal story for her. She’s smart enough to make sure that it’s not just written from Brooke’s perspective as the other two male characters are fully fleshed out. Alex seems like a good guy, so this isn’t a male bashing film. Sean is just a bad apple who doesn’t know quite yet (or might not ever) that his core is rotten. I’m not giving Sean a pass for his behaviour, but perhaps his character is the micro story to the macro problem of men (and women too) getting praised for these types of actions. And it needs to stop.
Bravo Krista. We can’t wait to see what you do next. And you’re an excellent actor too!
by Eli Manning
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