‘Break Down’ is a Dark, Absurd, and Elegant End to a Love Gone Sour

By  · Published on March 17th, 2017

Short of the Day

Ever laughed and cried at the same time?

Breaking up is hard to do. Everybody knows that, there’s a billion songs about it, including one I stole that first sentence from. But some break ups are much, much, much harder than others, and those typically result from one of the two involved parties’ vehement resistance to the dissolution of love. You might not think one such of these situations would be fodder for comedy, but in the case of Break Down, you’d be wrong.

To be sure, Break Down is a dark comedy, but in its darkness there’s a sense of mockery that balances sadness with absurdity, resulting in a short that’s far more laughs than tears. For the audience, at least.

Charlie just wants out of her relationship with David. She has her reasons, she’s even written them down, two full pages, and she’s not looking to scream, or fight, or play the blame game, she just wants to say her piece and hit bricks, clean as a Katana cut. David, however, being the self-involved, morose little man he is, can’t let things go that easily, and their last moments together keep getting dragged out in a hilarious if sullen fashion until they crescendo at a subtle and bittersweet conclusion.

Besides being dark and funny, there’s a palpable tenderness to Break Down that elevates it above the realm of comedy into something more oddly realistic for all its eccentricities. You really feel for both leads, played by Davey Johnson (who astute readers of this column will recognize as the father in The Cub) and Kate Freund (The Sarah Silverman Program), and the script by director Christopher Winterbauer is whip-smart and achingly elegant.

This is one of those films that never occupies the same emotional space twice, everything is a progression or digression from the feeling before it, and the way Winterbauer structures and balances this makes Break Down not just highly-entertaining, but highly-effective, impactful, and resonant. I’m pretty sure you’re going to love it.

This is another short that premiered over at Short of the Week. Give them some click love.

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