“I want extra grits from the kitchen”
Sabir (Arish Sahani) says it best towards the end of Matt Porter‘s short film More Perfect Union: “It was just a quarrel.” So often in this day and age we find ourselves reading too much into simple disagreements, unable to look beyond their seemingly trivial catalysts and realize the world has not ended. Whatever argument occurred between Hank (Max Azulay) and his girlfriend Dana (Kate Eastman), it surely wasn’t enough to irreparably tear their love apart. Yes, we may find the need to escape the stress, get fresh air, and put some distance behind the incident before coming back with cooler heads. Retreating, however, should never be an option taken without thought.
A light-hearted comedy written by Porter, Azulay, and Phil Primason, the piece has a tendency to get heavy-handed with its myriad parallels and overlooked epiphanies. Somehow, though, it still remains an enjoyable quest for clarity in the understanding that life goes on. Hank is at an integral crossroads with a serious relationship growing more permanent and an architecture degree looming to usher in a new chapter on the road towards full-fledged adulthood. Does it excuse the fact he up and ran when things with Dana got tough? No. But sometimes we can’t help ourselves from being blinded by insecurity and fear. Sometimes we need to get away in order to return.
Hank tries to find a quiet place for thought gathering by driving three plus hours to Virginia and the quaint bed and breakfast he was supposed to stay at with his girlfriend. Sabir and his wife Neha (Neena Sahani) are confused by his solitary arrival but are more than accommodating to his needs anyway. Welcomed with open arms and kitchen, the trio can’t help but grow close in such a confined space. So when Hank and Sabir stay awake all night drinking Kingfisher and discussing how far they’ll go for love, I thought the morning would bring smiles and a rejuvenated appreciation for their better halves. The reality of Neha throwing her husband out of the house for being unprofessional with the guest is therefore an interesting surprise.
Unsurprising, though, are the feelings of guilt Hank experiences as a result of the fracture. Readily willing to admit blame in the dust-up, the contrast of his remaining to fight for a couple of strangers he just met against the inability to smooth out his own relationship woes is very apparent. A montage of his tireless attempts to reach Neha and explain the misunderstanding was all his doing provides laughs as well as a culture clash between his contemporary Anglo-Saxon ways and the caretakers’ traditional Indian past. It’s the perfect juxtaposition to enlighten the young man’s cluttered mind about what it means to battle for a worthy cause—something his ancestor supposedly proved years before on the battlefield.
There are many easy revelations and obvious character development to bring More Perfect Union‘s parable like message to a close, but something about Azulay’s likeable meddler and the Sahanis’ stoic anger and understanding allows it to resonate above cliché. The difference between a marriage of thirty years and a courtship of two is put on display as well as age’s ability to harvest patience, understanding, and humility where only selfish desire and bruised ego once resided. Love is based in compromise and trust and the strength to work out problems rather than ignore them. With some subtle humor and fun, fish-out-of-water antics Porter’s film helps Hank and in turn the audience see how our struggles can be overcome.
Watch More Perfect Union for yourself on Vimeo.