Tastes Like Medicine is an extremely powerful and thought-provoking short drama that is of an exceptionally high-quality on all fronts. This is a stylish example of short film done right.
What’s it All About?
A young man named Drew attends a baby shower for his ex-lover. Struggling to cope with his break-up from her and seeing the ‘new’ happy couple celebrating their baby causes Drew to have a mental breakdown. He quickly begins to lose touch with reality and has a meltdown at the party, but the conclusion of this short flips the story on its head and we come full circle.
I was highly impressed when I first saw this short film, from the first few seconds until the mind-bending conclusion I was engrossed. It is hard to believe that this is Steven Russell’s first attempt at short films by how well it has been put together. Not only is Steven in the director’s chair, he was also writer and editor, lending his great talents to many areas.
The black and white cinematography is fantastic and really helps to develop the tone of this short. The contrasting visuals really help to reflect the conflicting Drew throughout the film. Black and white visuals are such a powerful force when used correctly and this is an excellent example of how it can be implemented to superb effect. Steven is clearly a visionary and has a bright future if he continues to craft these superbly atmospheric and moving films.
Steven Russell has written a fantastic story. This hits the write notes on so many levels, it is a short you can watch over and over again and take something different away each time you watch it. The final third of the film particularly doing an excellent job of changing the way you view not only the characters, but the story as a whole. This mind-twisting ending was performed and played-out on-screen brilliantly.
The plot takes us on a fascinating journey through the psyche of Drew that begins with an internal monologue that is not just an overview of Drews character but also a reflection of the short movie itself. The monologue talks about how something can “change before your very eyes”, and “All you can do is focus on the little things, the blemishes”, I can’t help but relate this message to the film, the more you watch it the more you begin to notice the little things and how they point out the true nature of the film, small clues that point to the overall theme and story. The director gives away small hints and subtle nods to the story that you may not notice the first, or even second time around. The small details do change before your very eyes and you see the film in a different light. These small details are what make this film special.
The surreal sequence when Drew has his break down is another highlight of the short. Drew almost splits himself into two characters as one version of himself goes off on an emotional tirade while his other self stands there helplessly watching. Something like this can go badly wrong if it is not in the right hands, but Steven Russell and Damion Rochester handle this scene with care to make sure it is a pivotal part of the film. Another interesting point is the fact that we are introduced to this short as being ‘Chapter 1’ but we get no ‘Chapter 2’, I found this an excellent metaphor for the character of Drew, that he is unable to move on and stuck in the same moment.
I also want to mention the accompanying score to this. The unusual sounds were few and far between but fit perfectly into the short and really helped to set an uncomfortable atmosphere.
Damion Rochester played Drew. Drew’s character is complex to say the least but Damoin takes it in his stride giving us a fine performance. As far as I can tell this is his first dip into the acting pool but he has put out an extremely strong message showcasing the talent he has. I thought he did a fantastic job and came into his own handling the more tense moments of this character.
Wi-Moto Nyoka played Kake in what looks like another first time performance. Wi-Moto is also a stand out in this. While being slightly pedestrian in the first half of the movie due to the focus on Drew, when she does get time to shine she delivers a confident and strong performance that is every bit to her credit.
Randall Holloway played Alex. I really enjoyed this character even though he had limited screen time. I thought Randall did a fantastic job and his performance came across extremely natural. I really enjoyed his conversation with Drew and thought this was one of the many highlights in the short. Randall is clearly a talented actor and made the most of the character.
Lauren J. Daggett played Julie. I really liked Lauren’s performance of Julie. It seemed to me that she had a lot of fun playing the character and that came across well on-screen. I thought she had some great dialogue with during in the opening scene when they are at the door.
I thought ‘Tastes Like Medicine’ was a fantastic example short film. The movie is to a very high standard and oozes quality. I love it when a short manages to get just the right balance of style and substance, add to that an educated plot and strong performances making this a fine piece of film and one I would highly recommend. This gets things just right on so many levels that it makes you want to watch it again and again.