After a devastating break-up, a guilt-ridden amateur singer seeks solace through a series of encounters with prospective partners. “Molly’s Single,” by director Ariel Gardner, is a brutal, hawk-eyed assessment of the state of affairs between young women and men, specifically of the aspiring artist variety. It’s a painful but fascinating watch, one that shrewdly documents the small and large ways we don’t listen to one other, and the subtle (and not so subtle) instances of abuse and manipulation hiding in plain sight. At its center is Molly, a soft-spoken musician who, at the urging of her roommate, goes on a series of dates to move on. The men she meets treat her with differing levels of disrespect — one accuses her earnest attempt to cheer him as dismissive; another makes an unwanted advance — and this is piled on top of all the self-blame she’s internalized from the break-up, and other existing self-esteem issues. Carried by a raw but complex performance by Magi Calcagne, the film is surprisingly emotional — when Molly slouches against a wall, sitting on a bare floor muttering to herself a series of self-disparaging remarks (“I’m a rotten person; I’m a dysfunctional person”), or lies in bed watching “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” we feel it in the gut. For its no-fi visuals and production values (it was shot on miniDV), its intelligence and incisiveness may sneak up on you, but there’s nothing amateur about “Molly’s Single” — it’s one of the most bluntly honest films of the year so far, and lingers on well past viewing.
Written, Directed, Produced, Shot & Edited by Ariel Gardner. Starring Magi Calcagne, Ariel Gardner, Margo Bateman, Tara McGorry, Aaron Alberstein, Jake Robinson, Robby Massey, Brodie Reed.