Floppy Toast With Drippy Butter

By Paul Stainthorpe | Drama
A bullied girl can't take it anymore and considers drastic action.

Chloe is a quiet young teenage girl having a hard time. She's bullied relentlessly at her school by the other girls. But she's too scared and cowed to say anything to her parents or the school authorities, and she suffers in silence every day.

Eventually, Chloe can't take it anymore, and she contemplates drastic action. But at her lowest point, she meets another girl, Alice, who helps her see another way out of her despair.

Directed by Paul Stainthorpe from a script co-written with Simon Jefferson, this short drama tracks the effect that bullying has on a young girl at school, escalating to the point where she considers the worst possibilities of escape. Shot with a naturalism that can be both cold and gritty at school but warmly cozy at home, the storytelling is perceptive in its portrayal of bullying as a chronic source of stress, which can escalate to the point of becoming a persistent trauma.

Even as Chloe is at home, memories of her difficulties at school continue to flood her consciousness, a process exacerbated by loneliness within her family as well. Combined with the abusive texts that Chloe gets from her tormentors every day, we can understand how easily someone can deteriorate under a silent but relentless barrage. Left almost entirely to herself, Chloe begins to descend into a mentally dark place.

Actor Ellie Bindman deftly captures the roiling emotion underneath Chloe's withdrawn demeanor. The character may have sparse dialogue, but Bindman's flickers of emotions come through, and her efforts to hide her feelings are equally wrenching. Just as she hits rock bottom, she crosses paths with Alice, who shows up just at the right time. Played by actor Rhiannon Jones with forceful compassion, it's almost easy to mistake Alice as some kind of angel at first. But in many ways, she truly is Chloe's angel, giving her the space to share her experience and find refuge and understanding.

Unabashedly empathetic, "Floppy Toast With Drippy Toast" may have a cozy, comforting title and a warmth in its visual approach. But it evokes a dark, difficult mental reality for many young people today, where stressors come at all angles and are not readily apparent on the surface. In the end, the space to speak openly and honestly -- and an equally important ear to listen, empathize and offer support -- keeps Chloe from going over the edge. That may seem "obvious" to some, both in the storytelling and in life. But with the mental health of young people (and perhaps older ones as well) facing immense challenges, there's a disconnect between the obvious and the lived reality -- and films like this are a reminder of the importance of closing that gap.

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