2023 HOLLYSHORTS FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW!
We’re all going through something, but to everyone else we are living a normal life. Therapists exist for a reason, and they come in all shapes and sizes. They might be friends, family, lawyers, barbers, or something else entirely—and we all have someone that we vent to after a stressful day. Therapists follows more than a dozen people on their journey through the mundane, struggling to deal with life as we know it.
Therapists starts off a little shaky, maybe even stepping over the line a bit. However, it’s only the opening scene that takes it too far. In the opening seconds viewers see something that seems unlikely—but Writer Tamar Pelzig and Writer-Director Josh Litman quickly dial the film back and ground it before it’s too late. After that initial scene, viewers see something so relatable, so accessible, that the start of the film quickly becomes a blur, a distant memory.
What happens immediately after this slight issue is a fast-paced journey through more than a dozen stories, all connected, and yet separate from one another. Litman and Pelzig create a short film by connecting a series of vignettes that remains cohesive throughout. Therapists is incredibly interesting in this regard, as it seems like a series of fractured pieces that, while we know are connected, appear separate from one another. As the film progresses, though, we are constantly reminded of the one, linear story that exists throughout the course of Therapists. I imagine that this film could have been something like a web series that, every day, showcases a different individual, calling back to the previous installment–and while that’s not the way that this team decided to release Therapists, I think it’s an interesting way to look at it. There are a number of ways to break this film down, as there’s no true second act–just a beginning and an end–allowing the middle to be broken up in a series of different ways.
Therapists was shot on Super Kodak 16mm film, giving it a gritty, aged look–and that plays well with the overall tone of the film. This may not be a tone so to speak, but I found the tone of the film to be simplicity–constantly mirroring the real world in ways that are easy to understand and appreciate. While the film that Litman decided to use for Therapists comes with its own benefits, the one in particular that this film sees is the scope of what Litman is trying to get viewers to understand. While we see a series of individual stories, it’s clearly important to Litman that viewers see the bigger picture. The film used to bring Therapists to life is a reflection of that–and it does far more than just extend the lens.
Back to that opening scene. I mentioned that it becomes a distant memory quite quickly, and that’s true–but Litman and Pelzig do eventually circle back and give viewers a reason to revisit the start of Therapists. The end is a reminder of the beginning–and the film is bookended incredibly well as a result.
Therapists is a really interesting film that maybe starts off on the wrong foot, but quickly rectifies its issues. It’s fun, it’s full of emotion, and it’s incredibly accessible. By the end of the film, whatever tiffs I had with the opening scene were gone, almost forgotten. Therapists will reach out and grab you by the throat–and I can’t say enough about what Pelzig and Litman created here.
Directed by Josh Litman.
Written by Josh Litman & Tamar Pelzig.
Starring Sheeba Quinn, Troy Quinn, Greg Lucey, Yifen Low, Josh Litman, etc.