By Gautam Chopra | Drama
A teenage girl has a car accident in an unknown neighborhood -- and she needs some help.

Pinky is a quiet young teenage girl who goes to school in a suburb, where she seems to go unnoticed by most of her fellow students. One afternoon, she hits a dog while driving and follows the animal into its backyard, where it escapes into the woods.

When she attempts to contact its owners to help find it, she meets Mike and Tara, who happen to be classmates at her school. Their encounter is strange, awkward, but tinged with a frisson of flirtation. Despite the flickers of some kind of connection, Pinky comes to realize just how invisible she is and what other people her age are doing — and what her own place within it all is.

Writer-director Gautam Chopra’s coming-of-age short drama studiously avoids melodrama, focusing instead on the subtle, often unspoken currents and eddies of thought and feeling that people set off between each other. In doing so, it offers an often poetic, uncanny portrait of a young girl stranded in an isolated suburban milieu, floating between pockets of strangeness and tiptoeing her way to a sense of self.

The writing is pared-down, and with the relative paucity of dialogue, it’s also a very quiet film, focused on Pinky’s gestures, glances and reactions. The storytelling’s themes and concerns are carried by a luminous, crystalline set of visuals, rendered in a moody, muted and cool palette and pristine framing. There’s both a sense of haziness and isolation, and the almost chilly glow to this portrayal of seemingly ordinary suburbia situates Pinky in a world that feels both beautiful and remote.

Within this world, Pinky’s accident draws her into a pocket of life that she normally would not have access to: the orbit of her fellow students Mike and Tara, who seem caught in some furtive encounter. Despite this, Pinky makes fragile overtures of some kind of connection with Mike, building on a previous, almost illicit one in school.

Young actor Nivita Chaliki plays Pinky with a watchful restraint, taking in each moment with thoughtful responsiveness and evoking both a tentative longing for experience and a fear of judgment. It’s very much a self-contained, introverted performance, made alive with the character’s intelligence and curiosity. And these qualities are ignited when she’s shunted off, left to her own devices to find her injured dog and presented with just how callous and self-absorbed the people around her are.

In evoking the “strange suburbia” similar to films like “The Ice Storm” or “Little Children,” the storytelling of “Licorice” gains its resonance by understanding how small, seemingly insignificant details actually set off huge wells of realization and feeling, especially at an age when a seemingly callow comment can devastate for days.

But by keeping its register so quiet and intimate, “Licorice” captures a sense of “unreality”: a set of surfaces that shimmer with promise but ultimately contain moral emptiness and furtive desires. Pinky must find her way through this world, leaning on her own self-worth and instincts, but the film has a teasing ambiguity on whether or not this is possible — making for a plaintive, haunting ending that seems incidental at first, but acquires an ominous, totemic power in its ability to linger in viewers’ memory well after watching.

You Might Also Like:

More Than God

By Kev Cahill | Comedy
A devoted husband suspects his wife is cheating on him. Then he hides under the bed.

The Things You Think I’m Thinking

By Sherren Lee | Drama
A burn-survivor goes on his first date after his accident.

The Landing

By Josh Tanner | Sci-Fi
A man uncovers the horrifying truth of what landed on his childhood farm.

Sometimes, I Think About Dying (Sundance)

By Stefanie Abel Horowitz | Drama
A woman thinks about dying. But a co-worker asks her out.

The Goodnight Show

By Charlie Schwan | Sci-Fi
A virgin tries to get laid before an unstoppable asteroid ends the world.

Naysayer ft. Steven Yeun

By David M. Helman | Drama
A young father who is cut off from his son takes matters into his own hands.


By Kaveh Mazaheri | Drama
An Iranian woman's husband has an accident at home... and she just watches him die.

Joseph’s Reel

By Michael Lavers | Romance
An elderly man is given the opportunity to relive one day of his life.

Lost and Found (The Oscars)

By Andrew Goldsmith and Bradley Slabe | Animation
A crochet dinosaur must unravel itself to save the love of its life.


By Joe Gillette | Romance
2 strangers at a wedding reception make an unexpected connection.

Exit Strategy

By Travis Bible | Sci-Fi
A man in a time-loop must work with his brother to prevent a catastrophic fire.

Garfield (Sundance)

By Georgi Bank-Davies | Romance
A young woman wakes up in a strange place, with a strange guy.

Partners (Sundance)

By Joey Ally | Romance
A couple's sex life is in a slump, forcing them to reconsider the relationship.


By Noel Loozen | Comedy
A young man works in a food truck, across from a brothel with a girl who needs his help.

Long Branch

By Dane Clark and Linsey Stewart | Romance
A young woman finds a one-night stand. But he lives 2 hours away via public transit.

Your favorite short films you haven't seen yet.

Inspiring and insightful. Entertaining and enlightening.
That's what you can expect here: no fluff. Just a steady
stream of the best films delivered to your inbox.