Bean and the Babysitter is a twenty-minute short film directed by Jason Michael Roberts and written by Jimmy Barker. A young college student Pam (Katelin Dirr) is hired to babysit a young boy Bean (Liam Eddy) while his parents go out for the evening. Initially Pam is resistant to bond with Bean to focus on her biology homework, but their relationship takes a turn when Bean’s parents don’t return from their night out. The two of them are stuck at the family farmhouse, far from civilization and have no way to communicate with the outside world. Isolated and scared, Pam and Bean are forced to confront their internal struggles, and each other.
The emotional weight of Bean and The Babysitter rests on the shoulders of the two leads, and they deliver. Katelin Dirr shines as Pam. She sells both the quirky and determined student, as well as the compassionate role model to Bean. In just twenty minutes, Dirr’s nuanced performance provides a believable character arc for Pam. Liam Eddy must also be acknowledged for his work as Bean. For a child performance, he does a phenomenal job matching his portrayal of Bean to the tone of the film while still reaching the emotional heights needed for the climactic scene, which hinges on his performance. Dirr and Eddy also have great chemistry that propels the film forward and is critical for the ending to provide closure for their characters.
The technical elements in Bean and The Babysitter enhance the already charming story. Director of photography Sean Cruser did a great job making the environment feel isolated from society. Cruiser’s work added a new dimension to Pam by allowing us to take in this new place alongside her. Simón Wilson’s score must also be highlighted. He did an exceptional job creating music that distinguishes the film without distracting from the emotional core of the story. It provides a much-needed flow and sets the tone for what’s to come.
There is a scene eight minutes into the film that redefines the relationship between Pam and Bean. He is in the bathtub and asks her what the city is like, and reveals to Pam surprise, that he, like his father, has never left the farmhouse. It is a nice moment that allows Bean to see more for his future than the farm, and for Pam to realize there’s more to life than just schoolwork. Bean and Pam earn respect for each other towards the end of the film, as Bean risks his life defending his horse, and Pam makes use of her biological studies to save it. In the best shot in the film, they join hands and begin walking to town, a powerful moment for both of them, as Bean takes his first steps away from home, and Pam chooses a relationship over her schoolwork.
However, the film takes a lot of twists and turns to get to this point. Bean and Pam’s relationship is very volatile. Pam and Bean are individually well developed, but their exchanges have not so much of an arc but a zig zag. Not to fault the actors, there is some inconsistency with the way that Bean and Pam interact from scene to scene. Whether this originated in the screenplay or the edit is unclear, but these moments could use some tightening up as it takes away from the great character building that has taken place thus far. But overall, Bean and The Babysitter is an amusing, mysterious film with two great characters at its core.
Bean and the Babysitter screens at the Spring 2023 New Jersey Film Festival on Friday, February 3 as part of the Shorts #2 Program. The film will be Online for 24 Hours and In-Person at 7PM in Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, NJ.
To buy tickets go here.
For General Info on the Film Festival go here: https://newjerseyfilmfestivalspring2023.eventive.org/welcome
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