Scarlet's mother had died recently, leaving her with two cats and a whopper of a tax bill. And despite it all, she's also dealing with her peccadilloes, including constant nosebleeds and a crush on a boy she can't quite talk to but likes to text with.
She must navigate the funeral preparations with a circle of well-meaning but hovering family friends, who are trying to find pallbearers for the day. As she tries to balance her own life and the ending of her mother's, she finds herself navigating waves of pain, which land her in unexpected places after making unexpected decisions.
Directed by Ella Jones and written by Molly O'Shea (who also stars in the lead role), this artful, smart short dramedy blends both the piquant and the melancholic, capturing a pivotal time of its main character's life and proving that life's challenges can spur the greatest growth and personal reinvention.
For a film about grief, the short possesses an eccentric engaging whimsy, starting with the rich use of color and bold visuals to its rat-a-tat dialogue. Imbued with an ironic (and very British) sense of humor, the writing also interlaces moments of reflection and sadness into Scarlet's journey, making for a striking tonal balance that is tragicomic and compelling.
Those juxtapositions find their richest expression in the film's visuals, which pay homage to the great melodramas of Douglas Sirk and Pedro Almodovar. And it's also there in the storytelling, particularly during a scene where Scarlet confronts the taxman, played by acclaimed actor Ben Whishaw with an unsympathetic officiousness that's comical in its nonchalance.
In the weeks after her mother's passing, Scarlet can hardly function, even with the sympathetic ensemble of friends around her, who still treat Scarlet like the little girl they've known. Yet, despite her mother's passing, she's still a young woman. O'Shea captures this dichotomy of intense grief with a young adult's hunger for experience and independence, portraying the heartbreak of loss with the excitement of a new romance.
Grief and desire combine in unique ways, opening up a way for Scarlet to move deeper into her grief -- and come out wiser and more grown-up than ever. In a way, "Miss Fortunate" is a coming-of-age story as much as it is a narrative about grief and loss. With its moving final scene, the film's greatest gift is how it captures how life's darkest moments are often the ones where we experience the most light, in the form of humor, connection and beloved community.