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The Independent Critic

Written and Directed by
V.K. Shah
Joshua Polizzi, Christina July Kim, Noah J. Smith, Jackie Goldberg, Oto Brezina
Running Time
16 Mins.

 "The Cheapest Man in the Room" Review 
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One of the joys of reviewing an abundance of independent and short films is the gift of being able to follow filmmakers as they mature into their craft. Occasionally, the process works backwards. Occasionally, what happens is that an up-and-coming filmmaker's work is reviewed here at The Independent Critic and the filmmaker, grateful for the support and coverage for true indie flicks, ends up offering the chance to review even earlier cinematic creations.

V.K. Shah, director of wonderful short The Nice Girl, is the latest director to offer a glimpse into the infancy of his directorial career with his submission of two of his early films, Welcome to Shady Pines and this film, The Cheapest Man in the Room.

Ross (Joshua Polizzi) is thrifty. Very thrifty. He lives in a world where his thriftiness is recognized as a gift, working at the Country Time Senior Center with his roommate (Noah J. Smith), his mentor in thrift (Oto Brezina) and the facility's senior debutante, Geena (Jackie Goldberg). When Ross lands a date with Geena's granddaughter, Jenny (Christina July Kim), his long prized ability to save a buck causes a potential Miss Right to slip right out of his grasp.

What's a cheap guy to do?

There's no denying that The Cheapest Man in the Room isn't on par with Shah's latest work.  Obviously put together on a much lower budget, occasional sound mix issues are obvious and the "Country Time Senior Center" sign actually says "Sunrise Assisted Living Center" are among the issues, the film has that wondrous look and feel of a film put together by a passionate crew on little or no income.

Having played at several film festivals, including the Rome International Film Festival and the Los Angeles International Shorts Fest, The Cheapest Man in the Room is a 16-minute comedy that works on the strength of Shah's gift for dialogue and embracing of even the quirkiest parts of humanity. While the story here is played for laughs, they're well earned laughs with an affection for the characters rather than at the expense of the characters, especially our thrifty hero. While everyone in the cast performances nicely, Christina July Kim is the stand out here as a young woman clearly appalled by Ross's thrifty ways.

While The Cheapest Man in the Room doesn't quite measure up to Shah's latest work, isn't the same true of virtually every director? The film exhibits Shah's gifts for dialogue and respect for his characters. This time around, Shah wraps everything up in an abundance of heart and humor.