Eleven years after they break up, Emily tracks down her first love, James, on Facebook’s “People You May Know” section. Soon they arrange to meet in person.
Their meeting initially begins as a friendly catch-up and exchange of news. But then it turns into some more foreboding and sinister, as Emily reveals her truth of what happened between them and its effect on her life since their relationship’s demise.
Raw, riveting and sharp, writer-director Louisa Fielden has crafted an intensely intelligent and compelling drama about the intersection of power, sex and accountability. Through its searing emotion and taut dialogue, the film dares to be confrontational about issues of consent, assault and responsibility. Though the film is small in scale — just a conversation in a cafe — the drama is potent and impactful, and the story roils with all the pent-up hurt and fury of its lead character.
The script pulls no punches but allows the opposing players in the drama both depth and humanity. As Emily forces James to confront the truth of what happened between them and its consequences in her life, James also wrestles with a myriad of feelings that pull at him, even as he denies, prevaricates and assigns blame elsewhere.
Both actors playing the former couple — Aiysha Hart and Joseph Timms — deliver charged, unfliching performances, giving the explosive subject matter nuance and shading and bringing to life a highly relevant topic that is often flattened by today’s news cycles.
“People You May Know” is undeniably provocative and topical, though it was scripted and shot well before the #MeToo movement began cresting. The film is a skillful, perceptive balance of palpable, heart-wrenching emotion with a keen intellect, questioning the norms and beliefs that shape our behavior and social experience. The short’s subject matter has urgency today, but the questions it asks — and the responsibility it demands — will likely continue to spark debate and reflection in the future.