Too Long at the Fair, which recently premiered on Short of the Week, sees two friends in a rut after showing up late for a children’s birthday party gig. Jessie Barr and Lena Hudson write, star in, and direct the short inspired by their real-life friendship — resulting in a satisfying uniformity from script to execution.
Charlie (Barr) and Val (Hudson), turned away from a job they were depending on for cash, are now struggling to pay their rent. As they wallow on the street in their princess costumes having a smoke break, they meet a handsome divorcee named Lee (Chris Messina). After a chat, they end up at his large house for an impromptu three-person party.
Too Long at the Fair, although fun, tackles the fantasy and eventual disillusionment of the L.A dream factory. As the duo sits in Lee’s fancy home, still wearing their frilly candy-colored gowns, they knock back a few drinks while discussing romance, sex, and wish-fulfillment with their new acquaintance. Lee reveals a sexual fantasy of his after being prompted and speaks of the money he would pay to make it happen — introducing the moral dilemma of what we might be willing to do for desperately needed money.
The editing is the standout — evident by the conversations and raunchy sparks between the characters — shifting into different dynamics as they briskly progress through the residence. Conversations are cut away from, and the big choice made by Charlie and Val isn’t lingered upon— instead, its the aftermath. Moreover, it’s not so much of a discussion in regards to their actions, but a “what now?” because there’s no going back.
The film ends with a beautiful scene set on the beach that gives the events time to sink in. Charlie and Val mention the dreams they first had when they got to Los Angeles — reflecting on where they are now in wordless expressions — a sad but calm moment of acceptance. Their shame isn’t crushing, but there’s a feeling in the air that things will never be the same. So the point, regardless of what’s happened, is that they went through it together. I can’t help but think about how much more melancholy and tough the climax would have felt had it not been for the pair being able to lean on each other after. Had it been a solitary affair, the tone would’ve been entirely different.
There’s no apparent predator or prey in the narrative, but it’s of note that while one character had his ultimate fantasy fulfilled, the others had their idealized vision of life in L.A permanently marked by the day’s events.