Review by Mark Schwab
February 20th, 2019
Trauma, and the ways in which humans cope with it, can manifest in many forms. In Christopher Frint's new short film CLAUDE, our protagonist David (Taylor Jorgensen) is reeling from the aftermath of his father's death and observing his mom Sarah (Juli Cuccia) struggle to keep their finances afloat. It seems the only way he can escape his troubles is by hanging out with his best friend Claude (Bear Badeaux).
Unfortunately the main problem with Claude seems to be that he is mostly a bad influence, encouraging David to get into trouble and to avoid anything approaching responsible behavior if it interferes with them having "fun". David's mother Sarah is openly contemptuous of Claude being in David's life but, thankfully, his more understanding therapist (Jeffrey Patterson) asks gently probing questions to try and move David past his inner pain. The main question posed here is whether the relationship with his friend Claude is doing more harm than good in dealing with that trauma. There is a valuable message at the heart of Frint's film and I admired the sensitive way the subject matter was handled. Unfortunately it is the casting which undercuts it but not for the reasons you might think.
It's obvious the entire cast is comprised of skilled professionals but when it comes to the main roles of David and Claude, both Jorgensen and Badeaux (who seem in their early 20's) are saddled with dialogue that seems meant for much younger actors. Upon a second viewing, I felt this material would have been much stronger served by two pre-teen actors in those main roles. As it plays now, David comes off too immature and Claude is too unlikable; I wanted them to separate which critically blunts the emotional potential. For me, this screenplay as written just couldn't land through the voices of two 20-somethings (despite Jorgensen and Badeaux giving it their best attempt).
There is no question that director Christopher Frint knows how to make a good film technically - CLAUDE looks and sounds excellent - and I know it would have been tougher and riskier casting young teens in these roles. But sometimes risks need to be taken and I feel the noble intentions of CLAUDE would have warranted it.