Case Number 22168: Small Claims Court


Queens Picture // 2010 // 15 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker (Retired) // August 31st, 2011

The Charge

A phone call can be a lifeline.

The Case

Elderly Mrs. Marshall (Viola Harris, Choke) is lonely since her husband died. The occasional visit from a concerned neighbor does little to fill the void, and her son cancels his holiday visit.

One day at 3:30 p.m., her phone rings. When she answers it, she can hear someone breathing on the other end, but the person won't speak to her. She hangs up. The same thing happens the next day, and the next.

Then, one day, the phone doesn't ring at 3:30 -- and Mrs. Marshall finds herself feeling anxious.

When, finally, it does ring, she reacts in a way that surprises even herself.

The Secret Friend is a lovely little short film about loneliness, aging, and the value of human connection. Director Flavio Alves -- who adapted the screenplay from a story by Joao Silverio Trevisan -- serves up the bittersweet narrative with sensitivity and a simple visual style. Veteran actress Viola Harris gives a charming, nuanced performance as Mrs. Marshall.

Too often, it seems indie filmmakers look to impress with ennui or shock value; The Secret Friend is a heartfelt and literate human drama that deserves a wide audience.

The technical quality is perfectly fine on this disc. My only complaint is that the disc contains nothing but the 15-minute film. According to IMDb, Alves has directed two other short films, one of which also features a senior in the lead. I don't know if Alves's other films are available on DVD, but if SuperPower and Even in My Dreams are even remotely on par with The Secret Friend, someone should consider releasing all three shorts along with some supplements.

The Verdict

The Secret Friend is currently playing festivals. For screening schedules, check the official site in the sidebar.

This is a charming little film, definitely worth checking out.

Not guilty.

Review content copyright © 2011 Tom Becker; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile
Studio: Queens Picture
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* None

Running Time: 15 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

* IMDb

* Official Site

* View the Trailer