Holding

By Jesse D. Turk and Jon Zucker | Comedy
A man calls a suicide hotline and gets put on hold. He finds his neighbor is on hold too.

Depressed and at his lowest peak, Nick calls a suicide hotline to get help, only to get put on hold due to high caller volume.

Standing out on his balcony, he discovers his next-door neighbor — a woman named Cassy — has also been put on hold as well. Together they decide to hang out while waiting to talk to someone, but when Cassy discovers that Nick’s ex Chelsea has been cheating on him, she convinces him to egg Chelsea’s house.

The egging brings out Chelsea’s current boyfriend, Brendan, who seems ready for a fight. But when another unexpected secret comes out, it upends the situation — and helps Nick and Cassy gain some relief from their emotional crisis.

Directed by Jesse D. Turk and Jon Zucker (from a script by Zucker), “Holding” is a quirky comedy about a serious subject. It takes a surprisingly and distressingly common real-life dilemma — being put on hold on a suicide hotline due to high caller volume — and spins it into a awkwardly funny and surprisingly uplifting modern-day caper about trying to get emotional relief and finding connection and meaning within pain.

The writing especially balances the tricky tone between humor and pathos. It doesn’t over-dramatize Nick’s pain, but it also doesn’t downplay it at the service of a punchline or joke. Instead, it takes a natural and understandable human need — here, to gain relief and achieve some kind of release from achingly acute human despair — and plays it to its logical extreme, to oddly poignant results.

Visually, the camera and editing keep the story moving, and the style is reminiscent of doc-style one-camera comedy series like “Arrested Development” or “The Office.” But this film is less concerned with modern absurdity than with the emotional lives of its characters, and it takes the necessary moments and beats to chart out the small moments of realization and decision-making that build up to its turning points.

Solid performances also go a long way in moving the arc along, and actors Nick Skardarasy and Amanda Idoko play Nick and Cassy, respectively, with the energy and dynamic of a very strange buddy movie, with witty back-and-forth banter. They play off well against one another, with Cassy literally egging Nick on to take action and exert some sense of autonomy and sovereignty in the hopeless situation he’s found himself.

Doing so doesn’t resolve the situation in the way either anticipated in “Holding,” but it does spur Nick out of his passive helplessness — and find his own pain reflected and acknowledged in another. And in doing so, both he and Cassy find themselves just a little less lonely and helpless. They’re both a little less isolated — but it’s just enough to get them off the edge and back into the fold of humanity.




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