Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sweet Madness Short Film Review

Madeleine Wade stars in Sweet Madness

Blueberry Bonanza!

"Madness is the very sweetest of things," yet "true madness can never be controlled." Leave it to Peter Dukes to sneak a philosophy lesson inside a horror (short) film. There's a reason Dukes is my favorite short filmmaker (and it's not because we share the same first name... although that sure doesn't hurt.) Each of his (now) 16 films brings something new to the table. Sweet Madness is playful, maddening and ultimately violent... a remarkable feat, given its brief 11-minute runtime.

If you're unfamiliar with Harley Quinn, what the heck is wrong with you? She's a DC Comics super-villain, with a sweet tooth for the Joker (referred to as Mr. J in this film.) So sweet in fact, she kidnaps a mayor and his family to secure a little face time with her on-again, off-again boyfriend. What ensues, borders on Shakespearean justice... Legion of Doom style.

Madeleine Wade shines as Harley, perhaps the cutest & friendliest kidnapper/mayhem-inflictor in the history of bad guys gals. She promises "matching pedicures" to her captives, "even you Dad," after the ordeal... albeit with a gun-in-hand. In fact, under different circumstances, I could easily see myself hanging out/partying with her. Credit that to Wade's charismatic performance (and skintight suit.) Sex sells; but it's Wade's mischievous nature, that instantly endears her to the audience.

Once Mr. J (Micah Fitzgerald, in a chilling turn sans make-up) appears, the story turns serious. After all, Harley doesn't (appear to) have an exit strategy. Or does she? Dukes effectively sells his anti-heroine as lovelorn; but crazy is only skin-deep, and Harley has lots and lots of layers. Maybe all those "selfish, infantile sentiments" aren't what they seem. You'll have to watch (see below for the full film) to find out.

My only complaint is a familiar one: It's too short. I'd love to see another 30-60 minutes, to get deeper inside the heads of Harley and Mr. J. That said, I'll take 10 minutes of quality entertainment over two hours of boring drivel any day of the week. As for partying with the lovely Ms. Wade... It's a standing invitation, but please, please, please leave the gun at home (wink.)

Grade: B+