The 4th of July is ruined for an international couple when the current COVID-19 pandemic shuts down travel and their plans in writer/director Gabe Caste's ultra-low budget short film Love in the Time of Quarantine, an eight-minute short that has been featured on FilmShortage and was an official selection at the aptly named Quarantine Film Festival.
The film stars Caste as Ben alongside a very socially distanced Fiona Baqai as Kennedy; the two have been hunkered down, though much to Ben's dismay Kennedy reports having been called into her office to work on a time-sensitive, high priority project. When he doesn't hear from her for their nightly check-ins, Ben's sense of isolation grows along with more than a little quarantine anxiety and sense of dread.
Filmed using a GoPro and Screen Capture, Caste specifically notes that the film was shot while adhering to "Safer at Home" mandates and there's no denying that the film's low-budget/low-tech approach actually works to its advantage.
It helps that Caste makes for a compelling leading man, occasionally possessed by what almost feels like delirium and radiating a sense of resignation and mournful at both his disconnection from Kennedy and his absolute uncertainty about her whereabouts and welfare. Under the best of situations, this type of scenario would mess with the mind.
COVID-19 is far from the best of situations.
One has to assume that Caste shot much of the film in his home and, well, I must say I fell in love with its unique stylings and retro vibes. I suppose if you have to be quarantined, isolated, potentially lose a girlfriend, and wonder about the future existence of man there are worse places to end up doing it.
Lensing by Lauren Caste has a hazy glow to it, the scenes of isolated boredom being shot particularly effectively and with just a light touch of humor to soften the film's uncertainty.
Fiona Baqai is also strong as Kennedy and lends just the right aura to feed into Ben's doubts and fears reasonably.
Love In The Time of Quarantine ends rather sublimely. Caste avoids easy answers and simple resolutions in a world where we're still sitting here waiting on our sense of peace and security to return to that which we felt just a couple of months ago.
For more information on Caste and his films, visit his Instagram page linked to in the credits.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic