(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: A religious message in the form of a little story of how one man solves his personal problems by turning to God and returning to living his life. This is a film for a select audience, probably including church groups who will respond to its message. This is a simple religious film shot with simple production values. Australian Angus Benfield both stars and directs based on a script by Hanna Eichler who also directs. The film is a United States/New Zealand co-production. Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4) or 5/10

These days Sunday morning religious programs are mostly of the format of some televangelist giving a sermon. Back in the 1960s Sunday morning would bring short religious dramas. Generally, they were about an hour long and they all built to some religious lesson. You always knew where they were going. Somebody has deep personal problems and the answer is accepting God and religion. They were a little pat, but they were entertaining in a timeslot when they did not have a whole lot of competition for video attention. I have not seen one of little dramas in years, but WAIT UP HARRIET brings them all back and is a return to that tradition. It is a parable in the form of a little drama. The narrative style is a little more complex with an 86-minute runtime, but the production values may even be a little more simple.

Jack (Angus Benfield) is a man who lives in the past. He had a beautiful, loving, attentive wife Harriet (Melanie Cannan). When Harriet died young, Jack all but died also. He had been an enthusiastic firefighter who enjoyed getting together with others in his fire company, and they all accepted Harriet as one of the guys. When Jack lost Harriet he became nearly a recluse. As we see him he rarely leaves leave his house and more rarely sees his old friends. Instead he eats out of cans and lives in memories of how he met Harriet and how he married her. Jack ignores his son Todd by a previous marriage (Mitch Potts) and bickers with his first wife.

Then all of a sudden there is a new woman who blows into Jack's life and not entirely a welcome one. Marty is not a romantic interest. She is just a friend, but she wants to be just what Jack needs. Her bright red wardrobe and slightly gaudy jewelry attest to her attitude accepting herself and of living life. Marty went to the same church with Harriet and they were good friends. Marty knows what has happened to Jack and now wants to lead Jack out into the living world again as part of her life-affirming Christian philosophy.

The story is simple and the production values are equally simple, appearing to be as effective as a small budget could allow. They get the job done, but show minimal style. The film looks shot on digitally with straightforward lighting and camera work. Reportedly it was shot in ten days for about $20,000. The score by Rob Gilmour seems done on a single guitar, occasionally accompanied by singing. The storytelling is a little slow and introspective.

WAIT UP HARRIET will be released to DVD on April 28, 2008. I am not the target audience and not the sort of viewer who would get full value from a film of this sort. For my tastes I would rate WAIT UP HARRIET a low +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10.

Film Credits: http://us.imdb.com/title/tt1151002/

					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2008 Mark R. Leeper