Merry Christmas! Why not celebrate the festive season with the residents of Marigold House Assisted Living Facility as they enjoy their annual Elvis concert?
Why not indeed. Florence (Oscar-nominated actress Jacki Weaver, of Silver Linings Playbook fame) has her own plan for the holidays, and it involves breaking out of Marigold House. Weaver is magnetic as Florence, whose no-nonsense attitude and foul mouth set the short’s acidic tone from the start. She sees an opportunity to escape in the form of Peter (Justin Rosniak), a sad-sack Elvis impersonator.
Peter has his own problems: he’s been double-booked, and ends up scrapping with the rival Elvis. Though Peter’s situation is dire, the visual of gold lamé and spangled red jumpsuit keeps the tone right on the line between pathos and bathos. One great detail, which illustrates the short’s sense of humour, is that the Elvises immediately recognise each other, briefly suggesting a tight-knit community of Aussie Elvis impersonators.
This mix of the funny and the pathetic reaches its apex when the two leads meet, and Peter pours his heart out to Florence. His lament is heartfelt, but undercut: first, his man’s-inhumanity-to-man argument boils down to a complaint about car insurance; second, Florence isn’t having any of it. Weaver delivers a lovely, albeit cynical, speech about the need for “forward momentum – stop moving and you die,” and the two drive off the pub.
Florence Has Left the Building is a sweetly caustic piece that suggests the best Christmas may well involve a pint and a spot of karaoke in the height of Australian summer. It rightly earned an AACTA Award for writer-director Mirrah Foulkes, whose first feature is currently in the works. Foulkes’ Judy and Punch will be “a crazy mix of fantasy, feminism and fanaticism” starring Mia Wasikowska as an enterprising puppeteer.
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CAST: Jacki Weaver, Justin Rosniak, Eden Falk, Julian Crotti, Melanie Mirto
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Mirrah Foulkes
PRODUCER: Alex White
DP: Jeremy Rouse
EDITOR: Katie Flaxman
SYNOPSIS: Florence is a foul-mouthed resident of a nursing home trying to escape. She gets her chance with the help of a washed-up Elvis impersonator.