By David Rusanow | Drama
A mother finds a used condom at home. And it can only be from her teen daughter or husband.

Julie is a suburban housewife cleaning her living room one day when she finds strange and unexpected under the sofa: a used condom.

It’s clearly not Julie’s, which leaves only two other people in the house who could have used it: her 15-year-old daughter or her husband.

As she probes the question and its implications with her counselor, Julie’s discovery quietly but forcefully upends the tidy corners of her domestic existence, and no matter what the answer to her existential riddle is, the consequences could be unsettling and potentially catastrophic. Yet her urge for answers forces her on a collision with the hidden conflicts of her family and marriage… until it doesn’t.

Directed by David Rusanow, who adapted the script from a short comic by Chris Gooch, this quietly bracing, keenly observed drama hinges upon those unnerving discoveries that can change the course of a life and confront the self with its unfinished business. Yet while Julie’s dilemma is undeniably dramatic, the storytelling also mines a particularly dark, subtle humor, particularly around her awkward attempts to find out just who the used condom belonged to.

The story could be slanted towards the melodramatic, but the directorial hand at work exercises a discerning restraint on all levels of craft. Much of the film’s intelligence is expressed through the beautifully crafted, meticulous visuals. Rusanow not only directed but served as the film’s cinematographer, and the brilliantly composed images have a deft, precise sense of telling detail, from the beautiful yet lonely light that suffuses Julie’s living room to the strangely radiant gleam of the condom itself, as if piercing through the veil of Julie’s carefully composed but empty life.

The visual acuity is matched by the excellent performances of the cast, particularly by lead actor Dana Miltins as Julie, who is able to portray the disquiet of a woman whose life as she knows it may fall apart, as well as the almost naive hope that, somehow, this will all go away and work itself out nicely. When she finally confronts her husband, we see what wins out in the end — though Julie’s resolution isn’t without suspense, as well as its own hidden costs.

“Mother” is a domestic drama that achieves its intimacy not through over-explaining or abundant dialogue, but through a poetic, rigorous discernment for the perfect, telling detail, which puts us perfectly in the conflicted mind and soul of its protagonist.

With an almost forensic level of attention, “Mother” becomes a fascinating character portrait of a woman at an internal crossroads in her life: whether or not to find out the truth underneath the pristine surface of her home, or maintain the status quo. Julie’s choice isn’t a surprising one at the end, but with the film’s final lingering image, it’s one that will likely haunt her in the future — and haunt viewers who may recognize the pervasive power of fear and denial at work to maintain their own carefully cultivated surfaces of their own lives.

You Might Also Like:


By Richard Prendergast | Drama
A single mother takes her family on a road trip. But it's to an unwanted destination.

Second Best

By Alyssa McClelland | Comedy
Twin sisters turn into rivals when one's gymnastics career steals the spotlight.

No More Wings

By Abraham Adeyemi | Drama
2 friends meet at their favorite fried chicken shop. But their lives have diverged.


By Gokalp Gonen | Animation
A man is trapped on a spaceship after his robot overseer finds every planet uninhabitable.

Feeling Through (Oscars)

By Doug Roland | Drama
A homeless teen meets a deaf-blind man who changes his life forever...


By Hadley Hillel | Drama
A man's suicide attempt rips a hole in the ceiling. Then he befriends the boy upstairs.

Dig Your Own Grave

By Kirk Larsen | Comedy
A man is forced to dig his own grave in the desert. But the ground is hard.

Call Connect

By Josiah Allen and Indianna Bell | Drama
A young helpline operator takes her first call and gets more than she expected.

More Than God

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

Welcome to Iron Knob

By Dave Wade | Comedy
A young boy accidentally shoots a stranger and the town tries to cover it up.


By Erika Davis-Marsh | Romance
A young dancer falls for a deaf guy, then tries to find her place in the world.

Toni With an I

By Marco Alessi | Drama
An awkward girl doesn't fit in at school. Then the Internet comes to save her.

The Things You Think I’m Thinking

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

Into the Silent Sea

By Andrej Landin | Sci-Fi
A Soviet cosmonaut who is stranded in space discovers a voice in the distance.

Infinite ft. George MacKay

By Connor O’Hara | Drama
A terminally-ill man has a plan to 'live on' and gets his friends to help.

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.