There are moments many of us wish we could do over. Be it fights with our loved ones or awkward first impressions, everyone has a memory that they wish they could redo. Fortunately for brooding teenager Jennifer (Kate Buatti), Would You Like to Try Again? allows her this opportunity.

Would You Like to Try Again? is a short drama that dabbles with grief, avoidance, and familial drama in a sci-fi-tinged way. Written and directed by Michael Felker, the short follows Jennifer, who is avoiding her sister Rachel (Olivia Stuck) at the local arcade, where she finds a peculiar video game that allows her to replay a painful memory until she figures out how to fix it. It’s a simple premise, and through its stylish presentation and nuanced performances, Would You Like to Try Again? asserts itself as a competently made, emotional short film.

This short film aims to keep the proceedings simple, utilizing very little dialogue and relying primarily on visual storytelling to establish its mood, themes and, emotional core. This minimalist approach is admirable and engaging, as the film’s reveal as to why its central character seems so brooding and despondent plays out in a very character-focused, emotionally-centered manner. The film remains admirably simple, from its plot revelations to its subdued character moments, allowing the emotional core to take center stage as the star of the show.

Anchoring the emotional core of the film is its leads, Kate Buatti’s Jennifer and Olivia Stuck’ Rachel. As two young sisters mourning the death of their mother, they are saddled with conveying grief, sadness, and frustration without many opportunities to rely on the crutch that is dialogue. Their performances are primarily visual, using body language and facial expressions to convey their thoughts and feelings, and the nuance and subtlety with which they do so are effective. You feel for these girls, and the actresses playing them are the primary reason why.

Balancing the film’s minimalist construction and nuanced performances is its confident direction and visual style. The arcade, the film’s primary set, is colorfully lit with warm purples and cool blues, feeling both organic to the location while also complementing Jennifer’s moody disposition. This is further enhanced by the confident cinematography and editing, which uses extreme close-ups, shallow depth of field, visual motifs, and effective match cuts which are not only visually interesting but also add to the film’s mournful tone and grief-stricken atmosphere.

This is not to say that the film is without its issues. For the scenes where Jennifer is being sucked into the video game, the film relies on aspect ratio changes and visual effects such as image distortion and glitch effects to make the initial memory replays feel trippy and weird and jarring. While these choices aren’t egregious by any means, they’re applied more heavily than they need to be, sometimes distractingly so. For a film that understands the importance of simplicity, greater restraint in this area could have helped these scenes feel less jarring or showy. The same could be said about the small amount of dialogue that the film has, which feels more expository and on-the-nose than this film requires. They’ve done a great deal of world and character building through visuals, so their characters shouldn’t need to flat out explain what their feeling and thinking.

Nonetheless, Would You Like to Try Again? is an admirably earnest exploration of grief and exercise in minimalist storytelling. It doesn’t forcefully tug at the heartstrings, so much as it strums them gently, giving you space to feel its emotional core rather than shoving it upon you. It’s definitely worth the replay.

Would you like to try again?
RATING:NRNo trailer available
Runtime:10 Mins.
Directed By:
Written By: