A series of mattresses are created in a factory, each destined to find its way to an odd, quirky corner of life.
One will become the bed of a couple whose bedtime conversation proves a little too intimate; another will find itself as the battleground over which a store salesman tries to exert his power; another will be abandoned on the street. Together, they add up to a strange collective portrait of humanity and their close, sometimes fraught relationship to the inanimate objects that make up everyday life.
Director Matt Cascella takes an off-center narrative approach in his comedy short, offering a circuitous tour through the strange swirls and eddies of human behavior from the perspective of the beds in our lives.
Instead of following a character or a chain of events, the story follows instead the life cycle of various mattresses as they goes from one situation to another, creating a unique throughline upon which to hang a string of absurd yet thoughtfully observant moments.
The narrative may be a series of vignettes, but they’re linked not only through mattresses, but also with a naturalistic, low-key approach to lighting and camerawork that emphasizes the everyday, workhouse nature of the objects at the center of the stories. The colors of the film are muted yet clear and the framings are precise yet fluid, making for an artful lens through which to look at the ordinary.
This unobstrusive approach isn’t necessarily documentary in style, but it allows audiences the mental and emotional space to be observant and take in the small yet memorable nuances of the various scenes, from the bluster of a salesman who knows he has no real authority to a mover’s nearly epic struggle to move a mattress through a stairwell. Together the small stories add up to a strangely melancholy ending, where a lone mattress is abandoned on the street, its final destination and fate uncertain, neglected and unregarded by its human brethren.
The various mattresses in “Beds” aren’t over-emphasized in the vignettes, but as the film proceeds, it invites us slowly to consider the POV of these objects: if these beds could speak, what would they say about us? What conversations have they overheard? What struggles have they witnesses? They’ve become unwitting bystanders of human experience — deeply intimate with the weird preoccupations, oddball power struggles and casual scatter-brained neglect we’re capable of, yet still offering refuge and rest when we need it the most.