Mugged Off (Connor Howlett, Peter Horan, Grace Kenny, Lola Fleming) is a tale of love, loss, and the unconventional relationship between a boy and his mug. Made for DU Film’s 48 Hour Film Competition, the short won Most Creative: a fact that can come as no surprise to the viewer. Inspired by the competition guidelines (the group had to include a mug, a handshake and a doorway), comedy and tragedy interweave in the build up to a shocking final twist. Despite being introduced by Horan as “not very good”, Mugged Off was a hit with this month’s audience- the clapping in the Q&A recording was so loud that it has rendered this reviewer temporarily deaf.
The originality of the plot and many of the shots (including an implied love scene and a poignant close-up of the mug crying) make the film an absolute joy to watch. One particularly memorable moment shows the mug gradually disappearing in a shower of leaves as it, in turn, disappears from its lover’s heart. Another shows the mug, complete with a Leap Card, riding a bus as it finds its way back home. The absence of dialogue in the film leaves space for the soundtrack- comprised of iMovie bops many of us know and love- to enhance the sadness and tension as we long for our two protagonists to be reunited.
Is the short a reflection of the fickleness of human nature? Is the protagonist’s treatment of the mug a commentary on the disregard we have for the world around us? As I stare out the window of my bus and twirl my imaginary moustache, only one thing is certain. You don’t need expensive equipment or professional actors to make a successful film: it can be done with a simple idea, a lot of creativity and a sturdy mug.