Positive Discrimination (2015) – Short Film

Director: Charlo Johnson

Starring: Róisín O’Donovan, Liam Burke, Niall Dempsey, Maghnús Foy

Synopsis: Tanya’s final exams are fast approaching but her eviction date is approaching even faster. Her only solution for getting this money together is a once off meet with a kerb crawler. Following an unexpected encounter in which Tanya gets picked up by an undercover detective, she returns to the normality of books and her local volunteering group where she provides financial support to locals in need and meets Joe who is first on her list. Joe is a stereotypical ‘nice old man’ and seems to appreciate drinking tea and conversing with Tanya more so than the financial assistance she is providing. With Joe’s health visibly deteriorating, he reminisces on the ‘good ole days’ but his sharp mind notices that something is troubling Tanya. When Joe learns of Tanya’s dilemma, he reciprocates Tanya’s altruism and provides invaluable advice, or so it seems.”

The title of this short film would suggest that the concept deals with ‘good discrimination’. This itself is a subjective matter – if a hard-working man gets a job over an equally hard-working woman simply because his gender makes him seem like a stronger leader, it’s great for the man, but not so much for the woman. However, director Charlo Johnson doesn’t come near this topic in Positive Discrimination.  A better name for this film would be Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover, because the film is simply filled with that cliche.

Johnson appears to be telling a story that he just hasn’t got enough time for. Those who watch the film without first reading the synopsis are likely to find themselves utterly stumped. The first time that Tanya is introduced, she’s dressed as a stripper with makeup so heavy that it’s impossible to tell that she is the same character as the do-gooder who’s reintroduced later in the film. This, combined with the fact that the story lacks a feeling of continuity, makes the entire thing befuddling. 

The acting in this film isn’t bad, but it’s also not good enough to make the audience feel attached to the characters. Fortunately, during Tanya and Joe’s conversation midway through, the actors are given great dialogue to work with, making that scene easily the best part of the film. 

The central problem of the Positive Discrimination is that it doesn’t coherently communicate its theme. While technically, it’s nice to watch, with professional cinematography and editing, the concept falls flat and goes nowhere. A good film starts with good ideas – and that’s something that Positive Discrimination doesn’t deliver on.  



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