It’s hard to talk about In the Light without ruining the ending. That’s because the seven-minute film, a collaboration between writer Danijel Margetic and director Glen Wood, depends so much on its quiet subversion of expectations.
The story bookends a one-night stand between a handsome daddy, John (Paulino Nunes, in a Stanley Tucci-esque turn), and his 20-something fling, Zack (David Light).
The juxtapositions are laid out quickly. Drunk and sober. Older and younger. Monogamy and open relationships. Out and closeted.
As the film opens, two scenes play out in tandem. In one, the pair drunkenly stumbles into Zack’s apartment. They kiss, they fondle, they take off each other’s clothes.
In the other, the pair wakes up together. John awkwardly tiptoes around the apartment, searching for his clothes, hoping not to disturb his sleeping bedfellow.
“Everybody in the film, including the audience, has different expectations of what’s going on,” Margetic says.
Take, for instance, John’s assumptions about how Zack will react to his sneaking off.
“The older man assumes that it’s going to be a scene in the morning. And it turns out that it isn’t. The young guy doesn’t care that it was just a one-night stand.”
In fact, the frisky younger fellow is upset only insofar as he’s feeling around for a little morning repeat.
The final series of twists — which I won’t spoil here — risks miring this no-strings-attached flick with the weight of domestic moralism. But the subject is handled lightly, and Margetic says the film doesn’t imply that monogamy is superior to other kinds of sexual relations.
“I wouldn’t say monogamy’s for everybody. But for those who choose it, it can be the right choice. Or serial monogamy. Or marital polygamy. Or polyamory. Or whatever it ends up being. Whatever choice people make in the end, it’s a valid choice.”
Margetic and Wood, who met at the Canadian Film Centre in 2007, produced In the Light on a shoestring with help from Bravo. The actors and crew worked for below-normal wages. But the pair ensured that everyone was paid, if at discounted rates.
“The idea of not paying the actors or the crew —” says Wood. “Let me say about volunteering for films: I just think there are a lot better things to volunteer for.”
One final touch, both frugal and intimate: the whole film was shot in Wood’s apartment. And yes, that means he lives a building with a charcoal grey, high-gloss common hallway.
“That is the actual hallway, yes, and it looks like it should be for a horror film, not the kind of film that we actually made,” Wood laughs. “To be honest, it’s the one design element that I would change if I could.”
Catch In the Light at the Worldwide Short Film Festival. It will be presented as part of Slap ’n’ Tickle, Thurs, June 2 at 9:30pm at the ROM, 100 Queen’s Park. worldwideshortfilmfest.com