Skip to main content
The Independent Critic

Aidan Keeble, Topher Loos, and Nico Johnson
Justin Leyba


 "Dissolve" A Dark Comedy That Gels Nicely 
Add to favorites

As someone whose life has been touched intimately by suicide, I must confess that I always get a nervous when a filmmaker sends me a film about the subject of suicide whether that film is intended as a comedy or a drama. However, having witnessed Chicago filmmaker Justin Leyba's two previous shorts, The Old Man and the Lion and Finding Johnny, I started off my journey with this film, Dissolve, with at least a bit of an open mind.

The story itself is simple. A teenager (Aidan Keeble) is trying to commit suicide, but before he can actually put the attempt into motion he keeps getting interrupted by his roommates and their own personal dramas. Intended as and successful as a dark comedy with an open heart, Dissolve just had its debut at the CineYouth Film Festival where it started off its festival journey with a win. Leyba created the film as part of his studies at Chicago's Columbia College and there's no question that it's a film that shows Leyba's growing promise as a filmmaker willing and able to tackle challenging subjects.

As the teenager in question, Aidan Keeble wisely doesn't over-emote given the confines of the film's just over five-minute running time. Instead, he gives his character a sort of exasperated quality that fits nicely with the interruptions he faces in the film including one friend (Topher Loos) who's wondering if the girl he's just met is really, really interested and another friend (Nico Johnson) grieving the death of his dog.

As has been consistently true for Leyba's films, Dissolve is a straightforward affair that doesn't waste time with unnecessary distractions. Instead, Leyba focuses the film squarely on entertaining you with a simple film that reminds us all that a life with purpose is a meaningful life and when it comes down to it we all really need each other and, maybe more important, someone needs us no matter how seemingly f***ed up we are.

With solid performances from its ensemble cast and five minutes of solid heart and humor, Dissolve is a short film with big message.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic