SXSW 2011: “Room 4 Rent” and its Sexier Older Sister

Room 4 Rent, a seven and a half minute film premiering at SXSW this year is an excerpt from director Max Weissberg’s first feature-length film called Summertime, yet to be released.

The screener that arrived at my house came with a small square package that I thought at first might be one of those wet paper towels you get on international flights.  It turned out, of course to be a condom, and Mr. Weissberg had my full attention. But the words stamped on the plastic package said “Summertime,” –the condom was promotional pizzazz for Room 4 Rent’s sexier older sister.

While the trailer for Summertime features guns and crazy-eyed women, Room 4 Rent is exactly what the official synopsis says it is:

“Anna is looking for a place to rent from Max. The two seemingly have nothing in common until they discover they both love to dance.”

There’s something endearing about awkward, thin Max (H.R. Britton), and the best part of the short was when Max made the unlikely comment to Anna (Olivia Horton) that he’d moved to that part of town “because of the nightlife.” Olivia Horton does a really great job subtly playing with the influence her character, Anna, has over Max. She smirks, she asks questions like, “do you have a girlfriend,” and when asked to dance, she shyly accepts.

And yet, I’m not sure this short stands on its own. I don’t quite believe the connection between Max and Anna. Their chemistry felt contrived and I wonder if some context might not help me enter their world. I hope to find out upon the release of Summertime.

You can dip into Max and Anna’s NYC apartment romance dance at 6:15pm on Sunday, March 13th at the Alamo South Lamar. It screens with feature film Fuck My Life from the Emerging Visions Category.

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