I was in the audience for Treffit’s screening at Sundance, where the film won the International Short Film Jury Prize. Audiences absolutely ate up this charming, but understated, short from screenwriter/director Jenni Toivoniemi, which is a masterclass in comedic subtext.
Tino’s mom breeds showcats, but when something comes up that requires her to leave the house, it’s up to 16 year-old Tino to host the “date” for their prized “Diablo”. Tino grouses like a teenager is wont to do, but accedes and agrees to entertain their guests. However when the female cat arrives, she’s not only accompanied by the opposing showparent, but by another very attractive female—her 25 year old daughter.
If you don’t know, cats mating sound terrible, the most violent kind of coupling, where your ears insist that bloody murder must be going down. Awkward Tino must share tea with his experienced breeder guest who yaps blithely about the birds and the bees while the attractive daughter is increasingly uncomfortable with the carnality operating audibly in the background.
That’s the joke, Tino—young and probably quite sexually inexperienced—having to calm and soothe a quite attractive young woman about first-time sex. It’s a brilliant premise, but Toivoniemi’s execution is quite subtle. There are no big laughs to play, the film is quite grounded in that sense. Upon re-viewing, it is the kind of film that probably benefits from an audience, the better to share and amplify the humorous discomfort that ensues, but at only 7 minutes, I have no problem recommending the film for viewers at home either. My only recommendation—as our editor Rob Munday learned to his chagrin, you probably shouldn’t play it out loud within earshot of your cats.