Two strangers are helping themselves to coffee at a funeral home. One is there for his recently deceased uncle — the other for a beloved and much-missed aunt.
The last thing they expected is to meet someone. And yet, somehow over a cup of spilled coffee stir sticks, they meet and spark a romantic connection in the least likely place.
Directed by Jason C. Brown from a script written by co-lead actor Erin O’Shea, this sweet romantic short takes the most essential, seminal moment of the genre and gives it a unique frame, offering a heartfelt take on one of the most delightful moments of most love stories.
This meet-cute moment that is the focus of this short has an earnest quality, using the proximity to mortality at a funeral home to achieve an authentic philosophical and emotional intimacy that still retains the sparkling buoyancy of the initial romantic spark. The beautifully written dialogue has the easy back-and-forth rhythms of the flirtation when two strangers discover a mutual intrigue with one another, and it’s easy for audiences to feel their delight as that intrigue parlays itself into a genuine connection.
Of course, the pair have to navigate the social mores expected in the somber location of a funeral home, where their flirtation could read as inappropriate. Actors O’Shea and Josh Callahan navigate this tension nicely, both clearly enjoying their chemistry and banter but then tamping down their fun as they remember they’re at a funeral home.
But the unconventional setting also gives rise to some genuine sharing, especially when they talk about the people whose funerals they’re attending. The conversation becomes both a celebration of the aunt who has passed away and a deeper, soulful reveal of the heart of the loved one she left behind. When the meet-cute pair have to separate, we’re left with an unusually resonant warmth that almost guarantees the spark might lead to something more.
“Meet Cute” is essentially a self-contained scene, but one that is richly realized in its writing and performances. Most romantic comedies take pains to capture the moment when two people spark, usually in a way that either maximizes the comedy aspect of the “meet-cute” or encapsulates the romantic enchantment that casts a spell over the couple in question and the audience in general. What’s unique here is that the “spell” isn’t about a heightened, romanticized fantasy, but the reflection and appreciation that a loved one’s passing can inspire. One beloved family member’s legacy of living life bravely and fully lives on. And though this legacy is lightly touched upon, it’s still deeply felt, resonating in another’s search for love and happiness.