Hunter Shea is a timid agent’s assistant working for the legendary Ruth Katzman, a former Hollywood heavyweight now on the decline. But now Hunter has a possible new job, and now has to put in his notice.
The problem? He’s cowed by Ruth’s forceful personality, and has procrastinated on telling her he’s leaving. But when he finally officially quits, he triggers a psychotic break in Ruth, who sets him a near-impossible task — as well as the ultimate high stakes — before he can truly leave.
Set in the tradition of classic dysfunctional Hollywood stories like Sunset Boulevard — with a dash of horror and thrillers like Misery thrown in — this thriller short, directed by Bryce Marrero and written by Matt Kic and Mike Sorce, is a wild psychological roller coaster that propels a hapless character on a journey of deception, violence and manipulation.
The narrative takes a little time to set up its moving pieces: a ruthless but desperate Hollywood agent, her hapless assistant who’s anxious to move on, an actress in search of new representation and the uniquely toxic milieu of twisted power, expectations and abuse that Hollywood has often fostered. But once the dominoes begin falling, they swerve into unexpected and dark places that take on an unexpectedly dark weight by the conclusion.
A commanding lead performance by veteran British actress Celia Imrie anchors the storytelling, who imbues her character with ruthlessness and craftiness. Ruth is domineering, demanding and cruel, but Imrie also deftly reveals the wounds and inner pain that fuels her dysfunction. The revelation of the character’s surprising depths is a key turning point of the film, one that pays off in the film’s ultimate resonance as it hits its stride coming into the final stretch.
“One Day Notice” has a high-concept campiness in some ways, with its high emotions compressed into a short time frame and space (and punctuated by an equally expressive and melodramatic score.) The choices that the characters make can verge on the outlandish, but what makes the film work in the end is how it lays bare Hollywood’s thirst for power and success, and the craven desperation that will make anyone do anything to achieve it. When pushed to the brink here, both Hunter and Ruth sink to their lowest moral thresholds — and discover there are even darker places to go.