If you’ve ever had to perform a group project, then you know what it’s like being paired up with strangers. In the comedic short film, Standby, two cops are forced to go through something similar.
From the very beginning, it’s clear to the audience that Gary and Jenny are new partners, since Jenny begins asking Gary about his address. Gary appears to have a very serious personality, while Jenny is always smiling and having fun. She seems more relaxed and laid back, allowing viewers to detect opposite polarity between the two.
While watching this, I definitely related more toward the woman cop, since she tries to ease the tension. I was wondering the entire time if “opposites attract” applied in this situation, and I got my answer in the end.
I really like how (as a viewer) I get to see the evolution of their relationship over a course of days. It seems as though the director didn’t rush the short film, which allowed for more of a narrative to build. If this were simply a monotonic conversation between the two, I feel as though it would’ve lacked emotion, and I would have been completely disengaged.
However, Charlotte Regan (director and writer of Standby) allowed for breathing room between the two, where the expressions on their face were completely natural as their partnership progressed. I’m interested to know how much direction Regan gave toward the actors, since their actions don’t seem to be scripted.
I particularly like the scene where Jenny blasts the song and begins rapping alongside the artist. That scene spoke volumes about the type of person Jenny was. That seemed to be her way of breaking the ice and passing time, while Gary kept the same look of irritation on his face.
As the narrative progresses, Jenny proves to be very persistent, which is why I strongly identify with her character. Her personality is raw, and extremely realistic. If I were in her position, I know I’d continue trying to be friends with Gary to make time go by quicker. Also, I’d never want to be on bad terms with someone I work with, since that might affect the quality of my work.
The director was clever with the concept of role reversals. As we go deeper into the film’s diegesis, it’s Gary who grabs a coffee for Jenny, while she sits in the passenger seat.
Although the short film is primarily focused on the growing relationship between the two partners, I thought that the criminals were a great touch. The entire time, we see both cops, yet it seemed as though the police car was more of a hangout spot, rather than a patrol car. The criminals made the story more realistic, and allowed for better visuals. It also helped advance the comedic aspect of the narrative, as well as break the tension even more between the two partners in crime.
I found it especially humorous as Gary’s personality suddenly emerged. He became as free as Jenny, rapping along to the song on the radio. They both seemed happy and comfortable with each other, as all co workers should feel during a job. I laughed, yet it made me feel happy that the two were finally getting along.
The position of the camera was also very interesting. It remained stagnant the entire time, and never seemed to change positions once throughout the duration of the short film. It provides a unique quality to the director’s style, and once again, provides more of a naturalistic effect. That particular angle of the camera also allows for viewers to feel as though they’re the camera. This style reminds me of documentary filmmaker, Dziga Vertov, and his use of Kino-Eye. Kino-Eye is seeing an environment through a “mechanical eye”, also known as the video camera. I felt as though I was the camera, recording and capturing these pure and natural moments between the pair.
The ending was upsetting, yet unpredictable, which was great, considering that my favorite films are ones that are able to catch me off guard.
Standby has won many awards and has been featured in many film festivals, such as Sundance Ignite and the London Short Film Festival.