Bed & Breakfast (USA, 2018) [CAAMFest 2019]

Actor and director Anna Mikami is currently working on her first feature which she hopes to complete and release in 2019. Before then, she has the short film Bed & Breafast showing at CAAMFest. It’s the story of two couples who have a run-in at a bed and breakfast inn somewhere in America.

Anna Mikami takes the lead as Lena, a university student taking what should be a romantic trip with her boyfriend, Charlie (John Ting). They are staying at a bed and breakfast somewhere in rural America. It is a wintry retreat, a place where one can get snowed in. As romantic as that may sound, an uneasy arrival is shown by the lack of talking or touching. A strained atmosphere while preparing dinner becomes an awkward evening and revelatory night as Sam (Lya Yanne), one of Lena’s former university lecturers just so happens to stay at the same establishment. She has brought her partner, Terri (Hannah Sloat), and we see that Lena’s romantic interests lie elsewhere. What emerges over the next couple of hours changes our perspective.

With a good eye for camera placement and a script that favours subtlety, the film tells a lot quite fluently without any force but there are moments when the editing is a little choppy. Dialogue over the dinner table comfortably holds years’ worth of context for relationships as the subtext of an illicit affair emerges. Although the unsteady use of reaction shots mean the emotions shakily emerge, the audience understands everything. The most effective moments are usually captured on handheld camera in extended takes when nobody says a word and there is a visceral dialogue-less nighttime dance where a system of movement and touch speaks volumes about the various depths of emotion and desire for each other. 

There seems to be bits of symbolism dotted here and there with the lovers wearing red while there are more neutral colours for their partners, a red heart on wall, a shot of the bedside table where rests the book Aleph by Paulo Coelho. It sets the audience’s minds racing but the performers are where it’s at and during eight minutes, they come together comfortably to make a notable short.

Bed & Breakfast is showing is showing at CAAMFest 2019 on May 13 as part of the ‘Out/Here’ shorts program.