Krishna and Garfield wake up together after a drunken night, queasy from the previous evening’s carousing and confused as to what exactly happened.
In the cold light of the morning after, the two gingerly dance around one another, but slowly piece together just exactly how they connected, and why.
Director Georgi Banks-Davies’s short romantic comedy ticks many of the genre’s boxes: witty banter, great chemistry, buoyant pacing. But Banks-Davies offers a take that’s just a little bit different, taking on deeper psychological nuances and exploring issues of cultural identity.
By tackling the “morning after,” she explores the unique situation in which two people who connected the night before must find a connection in the bright light of morning, where their very real differences reveal themselves more fully.
What’s unique about Myra Appannah’s screenplay is not just the crackling dialogue, but the way the characters conceal and dance around their truths, longings and expectations. They grapple with their attraction and desire for one another, but also the weight of cultural expectations and embarrassment — not to mention the vulnerability that comes from making a connection and wondering exactly what it means, especially as they begin to get to know one another at a deeper level.
The performances are often the key to a romantic comedy’s success, and “Garfield” offers two strong central lead actors, Mandeep Dhillion and Matthew Travannion, who handle both the lighter comedic elements as well as hit the deeper notes of uncertainty, honesty and vulnerability required by the story.
They play well together, and watching them laugh and jostle one another with genuine enjoyment make it a pleasure for viewers to see these characters come to a new understanding together — even when Garfield spends most of the film in a costume onesie.
And they’re captured in lively handheld camerawork that beautifully situates both characters not only in relation to one another, but also within contemporary London. There is a naturalistic, documentary feel to the film, and while the story hits narrative beats adroitly, it’s done so subtly that it feels like we’re watching life unfold naturally, carried along by characters that navigate their uncertainty and still somehow a new way to engage one another.
“Garfield” has plenty of charm and wit, with a story and characters that are both specific yet relatable, in a way that makes us feel like a fly on the wall of an evolving love story. By the time we’ve been charmed and drawn in by Krishna and Garfield, the film ends just a bit too soon, leaving viewers wanting more — and hoping that the pair rode off into the gray London morning to a happy future.