This Valentine’s day we want you to forget those sappy rom-coms and settle into a dark comedy that’s going to make you laugh for all of the wrong reasons. From first time filmmaking duo Leo Hardt and Manon Alirol, Petite Avarie is an absurd comedy with a twisted sense of humor about a rather taboo subject.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer, a young woman comes home to her particularly unsympathetic and unhelpful boyfriend, sparking one of the worst lover’s quarrels you will see in cinema and hopefully make you appreciate your partner that much more. Brutally honest and uncompromisingly dry, this black comedy is a gasp-out-loud battle of wits and cruel intentions.
While I don’t get to see many shorts in a theatrical setting, I was incredibly lucky to catch this gem at the Fantasia International Film Festival in the same program as my own short and I can report that it is an absolute crowd pleaser. With jokes that shock, this two-player performance is an electric piece of cinema and gives a wonderful nod to horror in its use of violence and subtle amounts of blood.
When faced with something truly terrible, sometimes the best thing to do is laugh. Comedian Leo Hardt who both wrote, co-directed, and starred in the film (as the awful boyfriend) certainly knew how to channel his feelings, with a veteran use of deadpan and comedic timing. Inspired by his real-life girlfriend’s photography project, in which she spent time around women diagnosed with breast cancer, Hardt became increasingly sympathetic toward her subjects.
“I did what I always do when something makes me angry and sad – I try to laugh the shit out of it”
“To put it lightly, she [his girlfriend] was spending a lot of time with doctors and sick women for her project and I was the only person she shared their stories with. They were all connected by the same shame, the same feeling of being put aside and victimized constantly and it made me angry and sad. So I did what I always do when something makes me angry and sad – I try to laugh the shit out of it,” confesses Hardt.
Cancer isn’t funny, it really isn’t. Except that Petite Avarie makes it really really funny. In the face of life altering news, Petite Avarie’s use of unexpected apathy creates an unforgettable black comedy that will leave a lasting impression of laughs and make you feel guilty for finding it so funny. Guess we’re all going to hell this Valentine’s Day, ay?
Petite Avarie screened at the Fantasia International Film Festival and unsurprisingly won the Best Actress Award for Manda Touré. It was also an Official Selection of Fantastic Fest and the Telluride Horror Show among others. Hardt is currently working on another short film and developing feature ideas while also working as a comedian in Montreal, Canada.