Ur Dead To Me Review
By Vanessa Nim (March 12th, 2018)
Directed by: Yonoko Li
Written by: Yonoko Li
Produced by: Jonathan Zsofi, Matthew Dawson
Key Cast: Elle Wootton (Jordan), Timmie Cameron (Kimmy)
In writing, one of the first things you learn is to avoid clichés like the plague; the second thing you learn is that this is much easier said than done. It is incredibly rare for someone to be able to create something unique and intriguing using repackaged material, and even rarer for someone to achieve this with the eloquence of Yonoko Li’s short film, Ur Dead to Me.
Li’s latest foray, Ur Dead to Me takes the dried out proverbial, “we all die eventually, so we might as well enjoy life while we can,” and turns it into a wistful commentary on - and rewriting of - our narrative of failed relationships. The film follows the days of Jordan (Elle Wootton) and her girlfriend, Kimmy (Timmie Cameron), as they make deliveries for Kimmy’s mother’s flower shop. Unlike a traditional shop, though, this particular boutique sells bouquets of dead flowers along with passive-aggressive messages detailing the senders misgivings towards the receiver. As Jordan reads message after message, she becomes eclipsed by the apparent inevitableness of a relationships end; however, she soon learns that whether relationships are successful or not is not the point - the point is that it lived.
Although it works with an explicitly stated theme and obvious symbolism, neither of these aspects work against the film as its quippy dialogue, endearing characters, and wistful visuals create a natural progression and sense of subtly. If anything, Ur Dead to Me’s ability to be overt while maintaining this sense of subtly is one of its major strengths and a testament to the careful production that went into the film.
Particularly, it is Li’s use of humour through the characters quips and quirks that transcend the film from a heavy-handed commentary to an eloquent and sophisticated conceptualization on the life cycle of our relationships. From Kimmy’s idiosyncratic personality and Jordan’s sometimes-awkward-but-charming demeanor, to the passive aggressive premise of a dead flower shop and the ensuing remarks upon delivery, Ur Dead to Me is crafted with an understated humour that showcases the talents of Li’s writing as well as the cast’s performance.
In particular, both of the leading ladies, Wootton and Cameron, give revealing performances that easily bring us into the characters and their relationship. Wootton’s careful and slight use of facial expressions and body language translates articulately to the equal sense of longing and dread Jordan becomes eclipsed by, while Cameron’s ability to naturally deliver Kimmy’s eccentric quips adds humour and sense of ease to the film. Together, the pairs mindful depiction of the balance between Jordan and Kimmy as a young couple gives Li’s dialogue a necessary sense of familiarity.
Self-described as “a creative who seeks to explore the human condition and the female experience,” Li has been clearly deliberate in her choice of characters and cast for Ur Dead to Me. The combination of an all-female lead cast, same-sex relationship story lines, and an incredibly universal theme showcases diversity for what it is - realistic. In a way, Li’s choices of characters and cast adds to the overt subtly that marks the rest of the film. But, more than that, it offers a much needed addition to the ever-expanding shelf of representation in films: stories of the human condition told from marginalized perspectives. That is, while Ur Dead to Me is technically a story about a same-sex couple, it is not a story about same-sex couples. By placing a same-sex female couple at the center of a narrative on the human condition, Li adds a necessary layer of normalization that works towards decentering the straight, white male as the default perspective in film and other storytelling mediums.
Between its commentative theme, quippy humour, and articulate performances, Ur Dead to Me stands as a wistful, subtle, and endearing addition to Yonoko Li’s roster. Resonating soft, like poetry, Ur Dead to Me says to us; yes, these flowers will all die, but aren’t they beautiful while they bloom?
- Vanessa Nim