Entrance No Exit [Jo Southwell, UK, 2018]
Long haul flights are rarely oases of unencumbered comfort. Zero leg room, crying babies and that dreaded centre seat seem like nothing, however, in comparison with what main character Helen (Michelle Fahrenheim) goes through in Entrance No Exit. As a world famous tennis star with OCD, a simple trip to the bathroom becomes the trickiest of tasks. A stellar example of physical comedy, this short film is a simultaneously amusing and tragic portrayal of the daily trials of living with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
One of the best things about this short is that it maximises the potential of every aspect of the film. Not only is the acting superb, but the use of setting, sound and the simply story line are integral to the film’s success.
For example, the combination of celebrity and aeroplane makes the cringe-worthy situation just that bit more unbearable. Scatological issues are embarrassing enough even in front of your nearest and dearest, but being trapped thirty thousand feet in the air with hundreds of strangers who all know exactly who you are is downright unbearable. The angry passengers queuing outside the bathroom are great comedic catalysts, although facing this in reality would be far from amusing.
Fahrenheim is wonderful as Helen, whose incrementally increasing panic throbs through the screen, as the situation becomes ever more dire. There is almost a clownish quality to her physical humour, and this is by no means an insult. Knife wielding, child luring villains aside, clowns can be very funny and Entrance No Exit wields this physical humour to its full advantage.
The brilliance of the story’s set-up is complimented by its smooth production. The introduction is particularly charming with its slick soundtrack that continues throughout, as is the fantastically snooty flight attendant played by William Lester.
In less than ten minutes, this short piece accomplishes what many longer films merely aspire to; it is engaging, entertaining and yet also makes a serious point. Helen’s face at the end of the film shows the anguish and the frustration of what we have enjoyed watching her go through. Comedy with depth is extremely hard to achieve, but Jo Southwell’s film certainly passes the test.
'Entrance No Exit' was a film in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2019.