The Short List #13: “We Win”

A young couple’s underlying blights simmer during an innocuous party game
The Short List #13: "We Win" (2018, dir. Michael Stahl-David)
The Short List #1: "Sweet Things" (2018, dir. Henry K. Norvalls)

The Short List is our running list of notable short features available online. Every week, we share one short film which we think deserves to be watched by many. The short films included in our list can come from any country but has to be publicly available online. 

Click here to see the full list of short films—you can also submit your own.

Here’s the thing about short films directed by actor-directors. The acting often serves as the centerpiece, and the acting is always instinctive, which obviously operates from the ‘actor’ half of the director.

This is crucial to “We Win”, the new short film from Michael Stahl-David (from “Cloverfield” and “Narcos”), where every quip and snide remark helps craft a dense inter-character history that defies the form of a short film and its time constraints.

In less than ten minutes, we learn all about Ben and Rachel, with each crack unraveling in a short game of “Mafia”. If you don’t know how the game works, the short does a good job of explaining it.

Assertive and strong-willed, Rachel (Ana Nogueira) puts work into her gameplay. At one point another player—surprise, a male!points out that she’s playing the game too aggressively.

That a-word gives me all the “yikes” I’ll ever need in a lifetime. The prospect of a woman being a self-made successRachel won a client who wants her to design a billion-dollar mansion just after one conversation in-flightis apparently too foreign or alien or obscure for some to digest.

That includes her own partner, Ben, who William Jackson Harper plays with the eye-rolling pettiness and conceit to match his pal, Christian, from “Midsommar”. He argues that she was at a disadvantage in that he would have never been “chatted up to” like that.

I am pissed. At Ben and this petty-minted line of thinking. That, obviously, is what the short is about when it all boils down. Success and ambition have always been presented as a boys game. Let a girl in a playpen and surely you’ll hear obnoxious little tantrums.

Watch the full short film “We Win” below:

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