Ur Dead to Me

By Yonoko Li | Drama
A woman who delivers dead flowers gets a message that changes her view of love.

Jordan works for a unique business: she delivers dried bouquets of dead flowers to commemorate ending relationships, along with messages from the senders telling the recipients off.

The work offers Jordan into a look into the pantheon of human relationships, and she begins to have a pessimistic view of people, full of bitter pettiness. But when Jordan delivers an especially enlightening message to a recipient who refuses to accept it, she starts to question her perspective and gains an understanding of the true cycle of life, love and loss.

Writer-director Yonoko Li’s lovely, thoughtful dramatic short has an almost documentary-like structure as it follows its main character for the course of a day’s work. The work itself is unusual: delivering dead flowers and goodbye messages to the members of relationships that have ended.

It may seem a bit quirky and whimsical on paper, but the film has a sense of understatement in all aspects of its craft, from the melancholic naturalism of its visuals to the fine, subtle performances to its gentle, graceful sense of storytelling in the pacing. With excellent writing and a sensitive eye and ear for the foibles of human behavior, the narrative treats Jordan’s job with equal parts compassionate humor and gravity.

It’s funny at first to see the very relatable range of relationships represented, and the sadness and anger that their endings elicit. But as the deliveries — and the collective sense of loss — accumulate, the emotional impact shifts into something more profoundly sad. Human relationships are always ending, and always full of suffering. What’s the point of it all, then? Why are human beings so mean to each other? As Jordan gently slides into pessimism about humanity in general, it’s hard not to understand why.

But then Jordan delivers an unusually rich message — one that possesses wholehearted wisdom and empathy, both acknowledging the pain that the relationship brought to both people but also the deep appreciation for what that relationship gave.

This message is the key to the powerful impact of “Ur Dead to Me.” To say it’s large-hearted refers not just to the largesse of the human heart evoked in this redemptive message, but to the panorama of humanity explored in the film. We all exist in relationship to one another, and those relationships are often difficult and full of conflict. Yet once we see those conflicts as vehicles for growth and gratitude, it can free us from our anger and sadness, and transform our suffering into something full of genuine meaning and grace.

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