The inclusive filmmakers at Australia-based Bus Stop Films hit another home run with the funny, endearing short film Work Mate, the story of an introverted office worker, Bruce (Brendan Donoghue), who is invited by a new work mate, Hamish (Benjamin Phillips), to go cycling.
Did I mention that Hamish is visually impaired?
I always forget those details.
Work Mate is an often hilarious short film that soars on the strength of Brendan Donoghue's almost painful to watch self-deprecation and physical humor that makes you fall in love with a guy whom you wish would fall in love with himself. Alongside Benjamin Phillips's more grounded and secure Hamish, Donoghue's Bruce begins to see what Hamish has seen all along.
Work Mate starts off seeming like it's going to be one thing, then it takes an abrupt right turn and becomes something equally awesome yet entirely different. It's a film with tremendous insight, yet those insights are brought to life with humor and levity.
Work Mate picked up the Best Foreign Comedy prize at the International Family Film Festival and has screened at multiple other fests including Cleveland International Film Festival, Guam International Film Festival, Dam Short Film Festival and a host of others.
Set to screen at this week's ReelAbilties Pittsburgh alongside multiple other Bus Stops Films productions, Work Mate is yet another example of the wonderful ways in which Bus Stop works to promote inclusive casting and immersive cinematic experiences.
While one can't speak highly enough of the co-leading performances, kudos must also be given to Kate Buchanan as Margot, whose ability to nail the film's tone early on sets the entire atmosphere for everything else that unfolds. Sonya Kerr, as Amy, is also a sweet and heartfelt delight here as a coffeehouse barista whose obvious interest in Bruce could so easily be played for nothing but laughs but is instead a little story thread that gives the film tremendous heart.
Music by Jonny Higgins gives the film a tremendous spark, while Henry Smith's lensing and editorial work here are both absolutely sublime.
For more information on Bus Stop Films, be sure to visit their official website linked to in the credits. For more information on ReelAbilties Pittsburgh, visit the film festival's official website.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic