Short of the Week

Sparks

A twisted story of two parents who yearn for the youth of their children.

Apparently I am the bearer of disturbing tales for Short of the Week. I never thought of myself as significantly more twisted than the norm, but I suppose it’s time to stop living in denial. Previously I’ve reviewed The Fifth (a twisted tale of death and friendship), Daddy Why? (a twisted tale of death and family), and Katasumi (a twisted tale of death and more death). I can proudly say that there is no death in today’s picture. Interestingly, its topic is far more taboo than death or violence, which suggests we’re in the realm of sex. While I usually am flabbergasted by people’s tendency to be left slack-jawed by human plumbing, this is a case where my mouth hung open, moving only when I laughed.

Sparks is the comic story of a relatively average family in the midst of an uncomfortable situation.  Daniel and Meredith are kind, devoted parents, slipping into a mundane life. Dana and Joshua are self-absorbed late teens, rampaging into rebellion and fun. Nothing surprising there, except perhaps just how reasonable and calm mom and dad are. The problem, as the parents explain to their children: “Kids, your mother and I want to have sex…with you.”

The jokes sit comfortably in the “I can’t believe they just said that” arena, but as I noticed when I saw Sparks with an audience, they don’t produce stunned silence, but uproarious laughter. Partly that’s because this isn’t a series of gags, but character driven moments. Daniel and Meredith are sweet, intelligent people—a bit geeky—that are impossible not to like. How they deal with their dilemma drives everything. Dana and Joshua on the other hand are stereotypes: objects, because that is what they need to be. After all, it isn’t there inner selves that are eliciting a response.

Sparks is a film that generates lunch time discussions that will go on for days. Feelings do not bow to intentions, careful planning, or rationality. How do you deal with emotions you never saw coming? The theme of Sparks is not the rights or wrongs of incest, but how to keep that spark that makes life worth living. However, most viewers are likely to dwell on its taboo elements, and why not? I can’t recall a film that has suggested a healthier manner of coping with the wild tides of sexual desire.

Don’t watch Sparks alone, even though that’s the norm with videos tossed on YouTube. Five people with their mouths hanging open are so much more fun than one. Gather your friends and family (well, maybe not the family) around your flickering computer screen, and enjoy.

YouTube has Sparks in 2 parts. Watch the first, then find part 2 in the player thumbnail view.

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Matthew is the director of the Dragon*Con Independent Film Festival, which annually brings filmmakers, features, and the best in short film to Atlanta. He writes a monthly film column for the short fiction review magazine, The Fix and maintains a film criticism website, FosteronFilm.com.
  • Jason Sondhi

    I’m glad you noticed your depraved sensibilities on your own and we didn’t have to bring it to your attention. Thank you for them though.

  • http://www.polymixmedia.com Andrew S Allen

    The funny thing about this film is how you start off despising the two parents because of their extremely taboo “fault”, but by the end of it, due to their honesty and good nature, can’t help but like them. It’s almost as if Andre Ford took it on as a challenge to see how far into the outcast category he could push a character and still keep us sympathetic to them.

    Matthew—we call you “corruptor of the youth.”