["Stir" screens Friday March 31st at 9:15 am and Saturday April 1st at 3:15 pm is included in Shorts Program 4 at Tower City Cinema as part of the 41st Cleveland International Film Festival.]
Review by Bob Ignizio
If I were to sum up the short film "Stir" by writer/director Niara Modi in one sentence, it would be, "sometimes traditions are passed on in untraditional ways." The premise is that working mom Laila (Tara Nicodemo) is dealing with the recent death of her own mother. Her family's tradition is to prepare a special dish to honor the passing of loved ones.
But Laila has never made the dish before, and as she struggles to get it right, she feels guilt for having put her career first. Her daughter and husband (Jason Weinberg) watch from the sidelines, not wishing to interfere. At least not while Laila grapples with both the recipe and her feelings.
"Stir" is a simple, true little slice of life that contains both pathos and humor. The film's 12 minute running time feels just about right – everything we need to know is contained here, and there's no sense when it's over that what we've just watched is really just a demo reel for a longer feature. That said, if Modi has more stories like this one to tell about these characters, it's not difficult to see her building off this if given the opportunity. Good performances all around, too. 3 out of 4 stars.