A lonesome PI, a femme fatale . . . and a great backing track!
US / 7 minutes / color / DC Dogs Dir & Scr: Jonathan Zuck Pr: Jennifer Osborn Cine: Fernando Ortega Cast: Michael Mack, Seregon O’Dassey, Ted Onulak, Sun King Davis, Dave Coyne, Jose Guzman, Exit 10.
The preamble to this short movie delivers us a voiceover and visuals which tell us unequivocally that we’re in noir territory:
“How did I end up here? I used to be a cop, then I wasn’t a cop any more. But I wasn’t a killer, either. It was a dame. It’s always about a dame.”
The speaker is standing on the rail of a high bridge, looking down at the trains passing to and fro beneath. Clearly he’s readying himself to jump.
The PI (Michael Mack).
We then flash back to the day that a femme fatale (O’Dassey) came to visit our PI narrator (Mack) in his office. She offers him a stack of cash for a job that he refuses to do; there’s no dialogue, but later in the movie we can guess what that job was and why he refused to do it.
For cash, anyway.
He follows her to the house where she and her husband (Coyne) have an apartment, and mounts a surveillance operation. He witnesses the husband’s abuse of her, then makes a beeline for a bar, where as it happens Ted Onulak and his band, Exit 10, are playing.
The PI (Michael Mack) puts the femme fatale’s pad under surveillance.
Later that night, the PI goes back to his office and discovers the femme fatale waiting there. Things get passionate between them, and the PI resolves to do for love what he wouldn’t do for money.
The abusive husband (Dave Coyne).
The cops (Davis, Guzman) are swiftly onto him, and he ends up on that bridge where we first encountered him.
The story is, then, simplicity itself, and clearly its sole function is to serve as a platform for the wonderfully noirish visuals and the song “Lover’s Leap,” written and performed by Ted Onulak and Exit 10. As noted, the band actually appears in the movie, performing this same song (albeit rather poorly lip-synched) in the bar where the PI tries to drown his sorrows. Onulak himself appears elsewhere, too, playing his wailingly emotive sax, as a street musician at the movie’s start and finish as if he were a sort of backing band for, in both instances, the femme fatale . . . who ignores him entirely.
The femme fatale (Seregon O’Dassey) smiles: her plan is fulfilled.
It would be easy enough to regard this as merely an unusually ambitious music video, but it’s quite clearly—from the fact alone that the song’s years older than the movie—something different: Lover’s Leap serves as an homage not just to classic-era film noir but to the song that serves as almost the entirety of its soundtrack. And a very splendid song it is; it reminded me of Chris Rea at his most melodic and laid-back, and, until I got to the credits and learned otherwise, I was at least halfway convinced it must in fact be a Rea track. As it is, I’m delighted to have discovered a great band I’d never heard of.