To Be Honest

By John Robert Hammerer | Romance
2 exes try to reconnect -- unaware they each have something to hide.

Claire and Josh have just broken up, but when Claire gets off work after a long day, she still calls him from the subway station as she waits for her train. She still misses her ex, but in some ways, she plays it cool, making it appear that she's embraced a wilder, more social life.

Josh, too, tries to be friendly. But he, too, isn't totally honest about what his post-breakup life looks like -- the truth of which would reveal to Claire just how far they've moved apart.

Directed by John Robert Hammerer from a script by co-lead actor Liana Sonenclar, this short romantic drama is relatable to anyone who has missed or longed for an ex-love, still reels from the pain and devastation of a breakup and yet would very much like their ex to believe that they are doing just fine without them. That complicated knot of emotional truths, and the measures we take to keep it at bay, forms the core of Claire and Josh's story, and while it's rendered here with a certain economy of elements and a gritty realism that reflects its urban setting, it nevertheless captures the complexity of the former couple's emotions.

Being a telephone conversation, most of the storytelling is relayed through dialogue, which is brought to life by understated yet aching performances by Sonenclar and Daniel Kirby. The pair speak on the phone, from different locations, and yet the actors establish both the awkwardness and familiarity of former lovers who have previously been closely intertwined in each other's lives, but now have to navigate a new relationship.

Claire takes advantage of the subway station's clamor and music to take advantage of Josh's mistaken idea that she's at a party, weaving a tale of a wild party and a cooler, more interesting life after their breakup. Sonenclar's performance makes clear, however, that she's hiding her sadness and depression. She paints a picture of a more vivacious life, and she seems to goad Josh with it -- to make him jealous, or even just curious, like she still matters to him.

Josh, too, is hiding a secret about his life after his breakup, one that shows just what a different place he's in. It's revealed early on in "To Be Honest," which makes their conversation all the more painful and poignant, as Claire builds up a fantasy and Josh downplays his reality. Maybe Claire suspects it already, deep down; maybe she hopes to reconnect and rekindle their connection. At any rate, the film's final moments provoke an ache who's ever experienced difficulty moving on after a breakup, only to realize that the other person pulled away a long time ago.

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