My very first Dawson City International Short Film Festival and I’ve somehow contracted mono or strep throat or something of equal inconvenience. I was all set to watch the bulk of films on display while partying my little heart out, in between perhaps finding a quiet place to reflect and blog. But alas, this was not to be. A once gentle tickle in my throat has now asserted itself. It has become an old man’s fingernail stubbornly scraping away the layers of my trachea. As a result of this unpleasantness I was only able to catch the first round of Friday night screenings, the highlights of which were Andrew Connors’ Come Back Little Star, Lulu Keating’s Her Man Plan, and Chris Levett’s Box 271 (or whatever it was called). For my money, Her Man Plan was the most successful on its own terms. It set itself the task of portraying a simple lesson learned and did so while throwing in equal parts hilarity, warmth and beautiful dogs…lots and lots of beautiful dogs. In fact, its only shortcoming was that it probably could have used a couple more.
The plot involves a young woman named Stephanie who lives off the grid. Although she is content with her daily routine of chopping wood, hauling water and taking care of her dogs, she begins to heed the incessant rhythm of her biological clock and decides that this year she will take a man, a choice she has narrowed down to two of Dawson’s most eligible bachelors: Robyn and Brian.
Keating has a great sense of humor and understands the importance of the one liner. Of all the scenes, the one that coerced the greatest audience response was the one where Stephanie, all riled up to meet the man who would soon fertilize her eggs, yells out ‘YIPPEE KI YAY MOTHER FU**ER’ as she rallies on her team of sled dogs. This is a simple, yet deceivingly powerful scene that evokes the Bruce Willis in all of us as we set out to achieve our goals. In the end, because of his linguistic attributes, Stephanie ‘choo’ ‘choo’ chooses Robyn. On her way to rendezvous with the chosen one, she comes upon the loser, Brian, lying in the snow. He is hurt and his truck is sinking in the frozen river. Clearly in need of tenderness and care Stephanie takes him back to the coziness of her West Dawson home and gives in to the fullness of her maternal instinct. Although she has always prided herself on following through with plans, she realizes in this moment that the heart, her heart, is at the mercy of contingent forces beyond her control and that the best strategy for happiness is the continual adaptation of oneself to the random circumstances the universe places at our feet.
This film is everything it tells us it is: it is cute, heartwarming, cozy and most importantly it is an enactment of experiencing an emotional truth. What more could you ask for.
-Posted by Logan Laird