By Max Lincoln | Drama
An ambitious artist gets jealous when her girlfriend creates an accidental masterpiece.

Jude is an ambitious artist in London working hard to get her work seen, but it doesn’t seem to be resonating with the right people at the right galleries. Amid her struggle, her girlfriend Taz gets the attention of an art dealer for an accidental artwork.

Taz is soon elevated in the very milieu that Jude is struggling to break into, causing Jude to seethe with envy and anger. Jude has worked so hard, while Taz is generally more laidback, enjoys life as it comes and is frankly aimless. Yet now Taz enjoys a charmed, easy entry into the world that Jude wants badly to succeed within. The difference in temperaments soon widens into a chasm, as Taz takes advantage of the situation. Tensions peak on the opening night of a group exhibition, threatening Jude’s standing in this world, as well as her love for Taz.

Director Max Lincoln’s short drama — written by Alex Moran — is a portrait of the artist as a young woman, grappling with holding true to her voice and vision while trying to succeed in a commercial world. She soon learns that hard work is not enough, putting her on a collision course with her girlfriend and her ambitions.

Though the film is primarily a drama and romance — and shot with a textured, low-key visual style that feels rough-hewn and natural — subtly dry humor is imbued in the storytelling, especially in pointed moments of irony showcasing the self-importance of the art world. But these little piques of indignity contrast against the purity of making art and devoting one’s self to craft, which Jude represents. She is always working, always creating, sometimes to the gentle mockery of her usually accepting partner Taz, who comes at life from a different angle.

The storytelling has an understated steadiness in building up milieu, character and situation, which puts us in Jade’s shoes as she navigates the shift in dynamics in her life and relationship. This isn’t a story about the sometimes insular world of art or artmaking — we don’t often get a sustained glimpse of Jude’s work in any hero shots, and more of the attention is on Taz’s “art.” Instead, the focus is more on the inner life of Jude. Viewers understand her jealousy and anger, and the small jabs at art industry tastemakers gesture towards the difficulties that Black artists in gaining a footing in this world. But the sustained thread of action revolves around the fraying dynamic between Taz and Jude, as they devolve from an affectionate couple into possible rivals.

Actor Natalie Simpson occupies Jude with commitment and authenticity, with an innate intelligence that makes her role as a serious young artist believable. She also nails Jude’s growing indignation and anger at Taz, which builds to a true betrayal. Watching its consequences unravel is deeply painful for Jude, pushing her to her emotional brink.

“Pineapple” ends with a spectacle that would be almost farce-like, if not for how the storytelling has balanced intimate character-building, social observation and wry irony. Instead, the final events become like performance art, both for the film’s viewers and art world spectators. Even Jude and Taz come to realize this, and their final moments gently reject and resist their consumption as flattened avatars of spectacle, in favor of something infinitely more human, beautiful and real.

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