Laura Spini’s graduate film and directorial debut You Are Whole is a dark comedy about a spiritualist missionary who is mistaken for a serial killer in a small British town by the sea. The film stars Hollywood veteran Fred Melamed (A Serious Man, New Girl) who delivers a fantastic performance as the well-intentioned and overly polite oddball Norman Pugg. Spini wrote her script with Melamed in mind, so getting him was a real filmmaker’s dream come true.
As the film unfolds, varying perspectives of reality anchor the storyline. As Norman attempts to find prospective converts for the new-age religion he so earnestly follows, he is blissfully oblivious to the disturbing remains left behind by a serial killer in the town. His own sense of reality is warped by the conclusions his mind has made through his faith and he can’t seem to grip death’s finality. Similarly, the townspeople have come to their own conclusions about Norman’s involvement in the murders. Spini cleverly evades her characters from discovering a real villain, so mystery reigns, as it is plausible to believe that Norman is in fact the killer.
Spini elaborates on what inspired the film: “I have a particular interest in the way highly religious or spiritual groups tend to communicate with the “outside world”, and whether two people from completely disparate worldviews can truly communicate, and if any answers can be found in the confusion that arises.”
While striking a fascinating tone through it’s script and direction, Melamed can’t help but steal the show. His cooperation was fairly easily won, as she send him the script hoping for simple feedback, and as a result he indicated interest in the role. It was a good learning experience for the small student production as it forced them to deal with agents and acting unions for the first time.
The result has been an impressive festival run for the film, selections including including Edinburgh International Film Festival, Palm Springs International Shortfest, the London Short Film Festival, and now You Are Whole makes its online debut on Short of the Week.
You can look forward to more offbeat comedies by Spini in the near future as she is now working on new short titled A Disappearance, which she has written and will direct in conjunction with You Are Whole Producer Laurence Brook.