AIFF recommendation: 40 Minutes Over Maui
What would I do if I knew this was the last day of my life? While we’ve all likely pondered this hypothetical question at some point, few of us have been faced with the reality of making the decision—and even fewer have had to do so while seeking solace on a Hawaiian getaway. But that’s exactly what two vacationers encounter in the short film, 40 Minutes Over Maui, which stems from the now-infamous missile alert that was erroneously activated for Island inhabitants on January 13, 2018.
Written and directed by Josh Covitt and Michael Feld, the 14-minute comedy chronicles a middle-aged married couple, Penny and Larry, who happen to be vacationing in Hawaii on that fateful January day. As the couple engage in a typical debate about how to spend their morning of tropical bliss, they’re rudely interrupted by an emergency text message notifying them to “seek immediate shelter” as “a ballistic missile is inbound to Hawaii. This is not a drill.” So much for hitting the breakfast buffet.
Faced with their impending doom, Penny and Larry, expertly portrayed by Julie Brister and Johnny Ray Meeks, enter into a whirlwind of emotions as they contemplate what they’ll do with their final minutes on earth. Make phone calls to loved ones? Enjoy one last moment of intimacy? Raid the mini bar? Their ensuing decisions over the course of nearly 40 minutes provide an equally comical and introspective look into the most stressful moment any of us can imagine, cleverly conveying the emotional rollercoaster of regrets and confessions both charming and relatable.
This authenticity is one of the things that makes the short film so amusing and enjoyable, thanks in part to brilliant casting and scriptwriting, as Brister and Meeks deliver a superb on-screen chemistry that makes it easy to believe they’re the typical jaded married couple, conveying the type of easeful interactions that can only truly come from a long-term familiarity and unrequited love—even in the face of death.
With bright and light cinematography, the co-directors underscore their humanistic, mundane comedy with bright cinematography, acutely observed dialogue and sincere mannerisms, effectively navigating the melodrama of a missile crisis with a refreshing warmth and gentle humor.
Receiving prestige at renowned industry events including the Sunscreen Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, and Dam Short Film Festival, among others, 40 Minutes Over Mauiis an easy-watch that offers an entertaining perspective into one of recent history’s biggest blunders.
40 Minutes Over Mauiplays continuously in “Short Stories: Couples” program May 22 – June 14 free for Virtual Festival subscribers.