In the opening moments of Erik Bloomquist's 21-minute short film Intermedium, you can't help but feel like you've stumbled into a supernatural-tinged 80's-90's teen comedy guaranteed to amuse but hit all the predictable notes.
Then, something special happens.
Taylor Turner's pitch-perfect screenplay comes alive and out blossoms a story that hits all the right notes and goes all the right directions that you'd always wished those 80's and 90's teen comedies would have had the guts to go.
It should be said, first of all, that Intermedium is not a teen comedy. It has its laughs, that's for sure, but Intermedium is a surprisingly substantial, emotionally rich film with moments of aching vulnerability, elegant sweetness, touching tenderness, and even a little bit of romance.
The film kicks off with Bridget, an obsessive-compulsive teen played to perfection by Emily Keefe, arriving at a new home in a new town alongside her parents, Greg (Rudd Anderson) and Diane (Chris Lindsay-Abaire). I couldn't quite decide if she was a Molly Ringwald type or the type of girl who absolutely hated Molly Ringwald, but she's both hoity and toity and a rather snooty beauty. The vibe here is decidedly retro and delightfully so, and while we're never completely sure why it's clear that the family has arrived at their new home on short notice and that leads to the best house available being the former home of a neighborhood teen who was killed in a car crash not that long ago.
You guessed it. That teen, Kyle (Beau Minniear), is still hanging around seemingly stuck in the home his family has since left behind.
When Intermedium kicks off, we're just absolutely sure we're in for one of those teenage "meet cute" comedies where ghost meets girl and they both fall in love. Fortunately for us all, Intermedium goes deeper.
Emily Keefe is absolutely dynamite here. Set to star as Judy Garland in Helise Stamos's Bogie and Bacall, Keefe goes from uptight to just right in 0-60 and is simply masterful at peeling back the comedic and dramatic layers of Bridget. The journey that unfolds in the film's 21-minute running time is both entertaining and engaging, a credit to Keefe's remarkable ability to sell both her control and her losing that control.
Truly, Keefe is wonderful here.
Tasked with portraying a character that could have so easily been turned into a caricature, Beau Minniear instead turns him into something resemblng a more wistful, melancholy yet still swaggering James Dean. A relative newcomer with only a handful of credits to his name, Minniear is just waiting to be discovered.
Intermedium really picks up steam when Bridget's father falls ill, an illness that brings out a different side to Bridget which, in turn, leads to a different sort of of relationship between Bridget and her friendly but not particularly welcome ghost. It's this transition that is sublimely written by Turner and beautifully brought to life by Bloomquist and his cast.
Both Rudd Anderson and Chris Lindsay-Abaire are strong in supporting roles, retro parents with a strong familial vibe and such a terrific chemistry that you bond with them despite their limited on-screen time.
Music by Gyom Amphoux is sparse yet the perfect accompaniment, while Thomson Nguyen's lensing accentuates the film's retro vibe yet so warm and comfy that by the time we reach our final moments it feels like we're immersed in this house about as much as Kyle.
Intermedium is currently available for viewing on Amazon Prime and Vimeo on Demand. You can see it for yourself and, indeed, see it for yourself you absolutely should.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic