Single, a 15-minute short directed by Ashley Eakin, touches upon a concept that plagues 2020 film culture: the willingness to judge a person’s appearance before considering their perspective. Most importantly, however, Single raises awareness about ableism — discrimination against people with disabilities — through a subversive narrative that aligns with the times.
Starring Delaney Feener as Kim, Single follows a day in the life of a young woman with one arm. She’s set-up on a blind date with Jake (Jordan Wisely), and tries to bail upon discovering that he has one hand. The ignorant ableism of Kim’s match-making friend serves as the film’s initial conflict, but the main storyline focuses on Jake’s attempt to bond with Kim, who doesn’t consider herself to be disabled and knows that she doesn’t have to settle for a Nice Guy who might actually be the archetypal Dick.
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Single feels urgent right away, evidenced by Eakin’s electric color design. And when Kim strolls down the street — sporting platinum blonde locks and black shades — there’s a bossy rockstar vibe which further emphasizes the character’s no-nonsense approach. From scene to scene, Eakin tweaks her color palette for some extra flavor, and thus complements her directorial form. The style and hues fit the day-to-night premise; the inclusion of various background signs instill a sense of atmosphere. Eakin clearly took full advantage of her experience working as a directorial assistant on Crazy Rich Asians.
Feener and Wisely play it natural and cool in Single, which is crucial given how many short films are de-railed by stiff line readings. As Kim, Feener hits the mark with her side-eye facial expressions, and certainly with her conversational approach. When Single reaches its rooftop climax, the moment initially feels like a boxing match, as Kim spars while Jake rope-a-dopes and takes every hit. It’s that sense of visceral realism that elevates Single beyond a “message” production.
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More than ever, it’s crucial to be more cognizant about the complexities of social situations, certainly when speaking to, or speaking about, people with disabilities. What’s so refreshing about Single is that the male and female protagonists acknowledge what they have in common but also understand the bigger picture. Kim and Jake aren’t defined by their disabilities, and they appreciate the importance of perspective.
Single feels especially relevant for several reasons. But here’s the tricky thing about 2020 film culture: there are critics who want to spotlight underrepresented groups but don’t want people who seem irrelevant to offer their opinions. Moving forward, hopefully films like Single will receive coverage from a variety of writers across the world, regardless of who they appear to be.
Q.V. Hough (@QVHough) is Vague Visages’ founding editor. He’s written for RogerEbert.com, REBELLER, Fandor and Screen Rant, among other outlets.