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The Independent Critic

Jeanine Bartel, Howard Hendrix Powell
Melissa Skirboll
Penny B. Jackson, Melissa Skirboll
15 Mins.

 "Overdue" a Sweet, Endearing Short 
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The lightly comical, lightly romantic Overdue is already proving to be a success on the film festival circuit with its winning story of two people, both somewhat down on their luck in different ways, who cross paths with a hint of familiarity quickly identified and embraced. 

Jason (Howard Hendrix Powell) is a twenty-something actor whose latest reviews reveal a major bomb from what should have been his big break. Staving off his depression with an abundance of alcohol, Jason stumbles into a neighborhood bar for just one more when he encounters Maureen (Jeanine Bartel), a woman whose face seems familiar as if she hasn't heard that line a million times before. Maureen is a friendly sort, though there's an underlying anger both from events of the past and a present boss for whom sexual harassment is a regular occurrence. 

This time, however, Maureen really is familiar. The 40ish bartender used to be the librarian at Jason's school, a seemingly beloved presence until she was laid off. 

He notices her massively overdue copy of "Wuthering Heights," a "souvenir" she kept from her former employer. She notices his copy of "Hamlet," one of the roles he played on his way up before he got knocked down. 

They talk. They laugh. They provoke. They make cute. They flirt, though for the most part chastely even if it feels like that potential is constantly there. The truth is that they're both the right person at the right time. Sometimes, that's all you really need. Sometimes, that's all you ever get. 

Directed by Melissa Skirboll from a script by Skirboll and Penny B. Jackson, Overdue has already picked up awards at several fests including Austin Revolution Film Festival (Best Short Screenplay - Romance/Rom Com), Fort Myers Beach Film Festival (Best Short Screenplay), Garden State Film Festival (Best Short Screenplay), Oregon Short Film Festival (Screenplay Award, Best Relationship Drama), and Southern Shorts Awards (Best Comedy). 

If you haven't caught on, the screenplay for Overdue is impressive and this is a short film that beautifully weaves together a tapestry of both comedy and drama though I wouldn't quite call it an actual dramedy. 

Both Howard Hendrix Powell and Jeanine Bartel are impressive here. Powell radiates sincerity while playing completely intoxicated. He's a charmer, obviously far less mature than Maureen but mature enough that we can believe in their spark. Bartel dazzles as Maureen, a woman who feels weary, though she still has a warmth in her eyes and is completely and utterly compelling. 

Louis Robert King's original music companions the film quite nicely throughout its 15-minute running time. While the film largely centers around Jason and Maureen, Skirboll has assembled a solid, charismatic ensemble. 

I believe this is the third film I've seen from the up-and-coming Skirboll and I look forward to continuing to review the obviously talented and creative writer/director. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic