Kyle Mullins and Rose Guess from the “Crying” segment of Interrobang.
What the movies typically show us notwithstanding, the aftermath of sex is much more likely to lead to awkwardness than it is post-coital bliss. Interrobang, a comedy anthology series showing as part of this year’s St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase, revels in that awkwardness. Sometimes, the result is crass and silly—the laughs a couple shares after the first fart of their relationship. Sometimes, it’s sweet—a girl hops in the shower after a threesome and the two men left behind explore their feelings for each other. And sometimes—as in the couple where the girl wants to get married and the guy yells he wants her “forever” during sex but can’t follow through after the deed is done—it might just break your heart.
Interrobang is written, produced, and directed by Paige Feldman, whose connection to St. Louis dates back to an internship with the St. Louis Film Office during the very first St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase and who now works in film and television development, and if it’s any indication, she’s a filmmaker to keep an eye out for. The film was made on a shoestring budget (crowdfunded via Seed & Spark) but has a real authenticity to it, from the relatable, realistic dialogue to the handheld camera work that makes the viewer feel like part of the action. The comedy here is more of the “knowing smirk” (rather than “guffawing out loud”) variety, and while there are a few times when the shorts are a victim of the format, with dumps of exposition-y dialogue that play as clunky, they can be somewhat forgiven for keeping things moving. Each short has its purpose—a joke it’s trying to land, a point it’s trying to make—and each time, Feldman sticks the dismount. It’s intriguing to ponder what she could do with a bigger narrative and a longer runtime.
Feldman generally does well in pulling naturalistic performances from her diverse cast, a must for this kind of confessional material. The most impressive performance comes from Rose Guess in the segment “Crying.” She plays Sierra, who bursts into tears after a one-night stand with high school classmate Noah (Kyle Mullins)—not because of the sex, but because the sex was just a momentary distraction from the fact that the restaurant she runs is failing and her life is in the process of falling apart. It’s slowly revealed throughout the segment that Noah is a self-absorbed ass of the highest order, and watching Guess’ Sierra slowly shift from sniveling mess to distant and disinterested to rightly deserved fury is a joy to behold.
One odd stylistic choice Feldman made was to present the six shorts that make up Interrobang as separate entities, each with its own title card, yes, but also its own end credits. The effect makes it less like a film and more like a marathon of a short TV series, though that does give the viewer the chance to enjoy the excellent interstitial music, composed and performed by Jonah Matranga of the band onelinedrawing.
The 21st annual Whitaker St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase runs until July 25th. Interrobang is available in a package with a Q&A and the film Hella Drove: The Movie for $14, or $12 for Cinema St. Louis members. The full list of feature films, shorts, and master classes are available virtually; for more info or to purchase tickets, visit www.cinemastlouis.org/st-louis-filmmakers-showcase. | Jason Green