Still Together

By Christopher Piazza | Comedy
A woman falls for a mannequin who comes to life. Then they try to escape the store.

Kate is a slightly awkward department store window designer putting together her store's holiday display for the season. She's also conducting a secret romance... with Leif, a mannequin that comes to life when no one else is there. Leif is a Nordic warrior who has found himself trapped in the form of a mannequin, and he's madly in love with Kate.

The relationship is happy and blissful, as the two unlikely lovers spend more time together. But when Kate's co-workers begin to nose in on their secret snowglobe-like paradise, Kate and Leif attempt a daring escape from their winter wonderland.

Directed by Christopher Piazza from a script co-written with Sara Ruth Blake, this festive, eccentric short romps through the romance, comedy and fantasy/horror genres, making for a distinctive story of passion and humor that's topped with a touch of squeamishness for good measure. It's all in good fun as it follows the tale of a window display designer who hasn't had much luck in the romance department. And yet, somehow, she's found true love with a mannequin who comes to life as the Nordic hero he was in the past.

The goofy premise evokes 80s films like "Mannequin," as does the stylized look and feel, from the punchy, VHS-fuzzy cinematography to the synth-heavy electronic musical score to the ham-fisted special effects that evoke Leif's transformations. Its sweet love story also has tones of 80s romance classics like "The Princess Bride," from which it also takes a certain cheeky tone and humor.

But even with its throwback stylings, it's still sweet and funny to see klutzy, awkward Kate fall in love with a hunky mannequin that only comes alive when with her. Actors Clare McNulty and Steve O'Brien have fun with their characters' quirks and heightened situation, and O'Brien in particular brings out the full potential of a virile warrior trapped in a fake body in a modern age he has no comprehension of. But both also have a genuinely sweet rapport, as two oddballs who have found love with one another.

While there's plenty of sometimes bawdy, surreal humor, there are also obstacles in any love story, and here they come in the form of intrusive co-workers, who cut in on Kate's time with her sweetheart. This propels Kate and Leif into a series of decisions that builds up to a fast-paced, suspenseful climax, as the couple try to find a place where they can be together without being judged or disturbed.

Of course, "Still Together" has plenty of tricks up its genre-bending sleeve, and it takes aspects of its premise to a logical end, putting a new spin on the romantic declaration that "no one can tear us apart." It's a truly unforgettable end to a zany, entertaining story that's both endearingly familiar in its style and fresh in its willingness to experiment -- and take passion to an unexpected extreme.

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