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  Wives of the Skies A Bit Tied Up Right Now
Year: 2020
Director: Honey Lauren
Stars: Drew Brandon Jones, Rachel Alig, Maddison Bullock, Sebastian Fernandez, Embry Rose, Stephen Scappa
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: The year is 1965, and British documentary maker Derrick (Drew Brandon Jones) is in a hotel abroad, seeking a new topic for investigation. Of course, he realises, this is staring him in the face: he arrived on an aeroplane, and there were stewardesses on it, so how about interviewing a couple of them, who knows where that would lead? He settles on Fran (Rachel Alig) and Marcy (Maddison Bullock) who are in the lobby, and begins to half chat them up, half conduct a proper inquiry into their jobs, but their sunny disposition means he would like to be invited up to their room to get to know them better. However, when this comes about, he is in for a big surprise...

Writer and director Honey Lauren is also an actress, so is presumably well aware of what it is to be objectified, which offered her an intriguing perspective on how men treat the women of the service industry, specifically those who are required to respond to their whims and desires with a polite and accommodating attitude. The era this short film takes place in (it's copyrighted 1965!) saw only young women recruited as air stewardesses, and as a result they became the focus for all sorts of fantasies, possibly demeaning: there were a number of movies about sexy stewardesses, for instance, but sexy receptionists, waitresses and cleaning women? Not so much.

Lauren subverted these expectations in a way that a twenty-first century filmmaker could do, by having her female characters indulge themselves privately in a way that would be alien to many of the men who, let's be frank, lusted after them. When Derrick and his cameraman Kevin (Sebastian Fernandez) venture up to the room they are treated to the sight of Fran all tied up in full sexual bondage (a Japanese erotic art called Kinbaku), claiming it's the only method she can use to relax, and he is duly discombobulated. Mainly because this is a woman taking her pleasure in a wholly personal manner, one that does not need a man to satisfy her - Marcy seems to be doing the honours, and later the favour is repaid when she is tied up for dinner. There was obviously a lot to unpack here in what amounted to around twenty minutes of screen time.

First, stewardesses could be regarded as being seriously restricted by the image many had of them, and that included their outfits which were designed to be tight but manoeuvrable, so it was one step from the figure-hugging minidresses to leisure time in actual ropes that were also tight, but not so manoeuvrable. We get little of Fran and Marcy's background, arguably they were there as symbols to be undercut by the director's playful but keen-eyed criticism, and the tone of the piece was lighthearted and almost parodic, looking back on the past with an amused but not necessarily benevolent gaze. This did what a good short film should, take a snappy topic and get to the point with economy and style, it did not need to be expanded to a feature, it was its own thing, and it was neatly played throughout by a small, game cast. Only the ambiguous ending (happy, but qualified) worked against the overall effect, yet you may find yourself processing more than you would anticipate by watching a saucy comedy; it wasn't creepily salacious, either, adding to the faux-innocent appeal.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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