Shea is a young aspiring comedian who lives in New York, hoping to make her mark and also working as an assistant for Tommy Danes, an established actor, comedian and celebrity. She lives in a small, cramped apartment with a roommate and she’s dating a woman named Margo — though that relationship seems to be on its way out.
On the verge of a big night for Shea as a standup, she and Margo have a conversation that questions their relationship. Then she drops by the set of her boss, played by SNL alum and actor/comedian Jason Sudeikis in a terrific cameo, and then heads to her own set. But somewhere along the way, she turns her uncertainty into opportunities for personal bravery and embraces the possibilities of her life.
This warm-hearted, intelligently observed dramedy short — created and written by lead actor Julia Lindon and directed by Taylor Lee Nagel — offers a fascinating portrait of a young woman trying to find her footing and settle into her identity as a creative and a queer woman, just as her first queer relationship begins to falter. Caught between the roles she occupies — a nice Jewish girl to her family, a professional aspiring comic to her boss, a “gaybie” trying to find her place in the community — she sometimes finds herself flummoxed by her life’s complexity.
Its rhythms in its storytelling are more elongated than typical for many short comedies, allowing Lindon to play out quirky moments of solitude and awkward interactions. Many times Shea seems almost tentative in the world, especially as she navigates this new dimension of her identity that’s come to the fore. The humor is often found not necessarily with typical “on the nose” comic timing, but in the awkwardness of being out of rhythm at times with the people and expectations around them.
The time and attention of the story’s more languorous pacing give viewers an unusual intimacy with Shea as a character. We see how she makes her way through the world with equal parts trepidation and boldness, a line that is straddled with both poise and quiet honesty by Lindon’s performance, as she takes small but significant steps she takes to carve out a life and existence.
The scenes themselves seem almost incidental: telling her gynecologist that she’s dating a woman, asking someone to be friends, erasing an overly solicitous text, leaving an engagement to meet up with someone new. But they add up to an optimistic, energetic embrace of personal courage and freedom — one that is unique and individualistic as Shea herself.
What works so well about “Lady Liberty” is how it shows identity is a process, not a static monolith that a person just drops in and out of. Shea is in an in-between place — ending a relationship just as she was starting to explore her queerness, reaching out to other queer women for friendship and community, still working her way up the comedy circuit.
Yet this liminal space transforms in the course of the narrative for Shea, arching from a place of fear and hesitancy into one of liberation and possibility. Like the Overcoats songs “Siren” and “Leave the Light On” used on the soundtrack, it’s ultimately a space of hope, optimism and joy. These in-between places in our lives can be full of adventure for anyone, and important stops in what ends up being a journey of self-knowledge, strength, independence and ultimately self-love.