“Long Branch“, a 2011 short film by Dane Clark and Linsey Stewart, is a comedy that cleverly uproots the norms of a familiar scenario, reversing its conventions to produce a spatial and temporal display of opposites. Gray and Lynn are trying to have a one night stand, and things are going well — that is, until Gray tells her he lives outside the city limits, and they are forced to take public transit to get there. Will their night be fulfilled, or will they be hampered by insufferable delay?
Shrewdly engineered as a play of contrasts, the fiery young couple in the story, burning with spontaneous sexual passion, is pitted against a desolate winter landscape of perpetual snowfall and pavement sludge, and the hard, practical surfaces of communal transportation. Similarly, the typical brevity of an impulsive sexual encounter is elongated into a feckless multi-hour journey, that deprives the impetuous impulse of its adventure and daring.
In its absence, however, there is a revelation of character and a budding charisma, of a personal nature. Gray is an earnest person in all sense of the word, and his pragmatic approach to the encounter is both telling and awkwardly hilarious. Lynn’s titillations and tempestuous past are an effective balance to Gray’s seeming normalcy, and this dynamic is explored through Gray’s continuous probing of Lynn’s personality, and Lynn’s corresponding refusal to infuse the encounter with meaning.
As the film comes to a head with a disclosure of Gray and Lynn’s respective handicaps, a conciliation is found in the intimacy of a shared bed, that is bathed in a warm tungsten glow which defies the cold of the night. Shedding off all pretense and baggage, literally and figuratively, there is a delicate spark of true romance, nascent but assuring, that must only stem from a certain resolve and a deeper place of the heart.