Harry lives in his home with his cranky, invalid father, while in the midst of growing hostility with his wife Abby. Both husband and wife come and go, managing to avoid one another at the house.
But when Harry eats a bowl of plums that Abby clearly wants to be saved, it sets off a domestic skirmish that escalates into a full-fledged war involving destruction of property, infidelity and eventually… murder.
Writer-director Monique Sorgen’s dark comedy short has a simple narrative and premise, but it’s not a typical story, though the plot about the final dissolution of a marriage is packed with dramatic action and extreme choices.
Instead, like the famous William Carlos Williams poem “This Is Just to Say” that it both satirizes and draws inspiration from, it functions much like a work of poetry — although one with sting and irony. Each beat of the story is much like a line of a poem, packing an immense amount of craft and consideration within a short yet powerful movement and taking a leap in pushing the story and meaning forward.
The result is a crisply biting, stylized film that succeeds with an accomplished sense of craft, starting with the golden-hued yet lurid cinematography. The editing, too, keeps things moving along. The rhythm isn’t set by character motivation or realization, but by the torrent of anger, retaliation and revenge that the husband-wife pair spark.
An ironically whimsical score also adds to the musicality of the film, and the sound is punctuated by the constant whines and entreaties of the live-in father, played by acclaimed character actor and comedian M. Emmet Walsh. His irascible, sometimes pathetic presence lurks underneath the growing battle between Harry and Abby, like a buzzing insect that won’t go away — until one of them reaches an inevitable but still shocking breaking point.
Masterfully crafted with a stinger of an ending, “Sorry, Not Sorry” is a neat yet cutting portrayal of passive-aggression and a darkly comic exploration of what happens when resentments build in any marriage and how that aggression can come out. Though its dark comedy stylings push the action to the extremes of human behavior — and people would like to believe they’re more civilized and well-behaved overall — the impulses towards revenge and fury are still highly relatable.
Like many dark comedies, “Sorry, Not Sorry” allows those impulses a playground for expression and an arena to wreak havoc in, in an inventive way. Its brutal honesty, married with a considerable command of craft and a quirky sensibility, may ruffle more genteel sensibilities. But many others will relate to its icky, squeamish truth about domestic life that underlies it and chuckle uneasily in recognition.