A seemingly humble, unassuming postman named Nick is delivering mail as usual on his route. But as he walks and contemplates which pieces of mail to steal or throw out, his thoughts reveal a darker mind at work underneath the quiet exterior. As it turns out, Nick isn’t unlike the very neighborhood that he delivers mail for.
Sharp, stylish and with a brooding sense of unrest, this short drama — directed by Calum Macdiarmid and written by Alexei Slater — offers a satirical look at class and suburbia through the eyes of a disgruntled worker at the working-class end of the spectrum. Offering a collective portrait of a neighborhood that seems ordinary and quotidian at first glance, the postman’s unique POV teases at a foreboding darkness that teems underneath the placid surface.
The script is structured by a voiceover that’s the internal monologue of its main character, whose polite, cheerful professional demeanor contrasts with his biting, caustic thoughts about the neighbors on his route. The language is rich, rhythmic and evocative in its non-stop stream of consciousness, though it reveals the mind at its center is dark, malevolent and even disturbed.
Though the film’s action is essentially a walk and then a discovery, the camerawork creates visual dynamism with its movements and its expressionistic use of editing, sound and images. There’s a muted naturalism in the palette, but it’s often interrupted by a more saturated darkness that feels almost phantasmagoric in comparison to the neighborhood’s quietness.
It mirrors the performance of actor Nick Moran, who effectively oscillates between the bland, harmless demeanor he holds up in public versus the darker, more sinister private self within. The gulf between the secret, dark, usually fleeting thoughts we hold within and the well-maintained amiable surfaces we show to get along in society are hinted at, though Moran does a terrific job showing that the gap for the postman is easily and not so surprisingly traversed. When he gets an opportunity to not just think about, but put one of these darker impulses into action, he discovers just how strange it gets underneath the surface of suburbia.
“82” is a very compressed and simple narrative, but it’s done with such flair, style and clever craft that it is able to conjure a richly dark, brooding, disquieting world through one seemingly marginal character’s thoughts and walk. It pays off at the end when the film’s central mystery builds and then reveals itself with a startling quickness. It’s a “nasty bit of work,” as the British like to say, but an entertaining twist — and a fun, entertaining and acidic take on the idea of good fences making good neighbors.