This Queer short film review is part of my “Queer Christmas Shorts for 2020” post.
While I think this short film’s premise is a bit more fantasy than reality, “Holiday Help Desk” is a cute and whimsical lesbian romance set on Christmas Eve. The holidays are usually full of joy and happiness, but the reality is that they actually are rather lonely for many folks. This short film shows a bit of that, but also gives us a romantic connection that is what every woman hopes for. Let’s break it down!
Synopsis for “Holiday Help Desk”
Lauren (Shannan Leigh Reeve) is scheduled to work the IT help desk at her company, all alone on Christmas Eve. However, she actually doesn’t mind – she can wrap all her presents! But otherwise, the night is a bit boring and uneventful – until Christina (Rachel Lin) calls needing help reconnecting to her office WiFi. Working late herself, she is surprised that she reached an actual person on Christmas Eve. While Lauren gets Christina connected, they exchange some quick banter. Later on, Lauren is on her cell with her mother talking about plans for the morning – and not NOT hook her up with anyone. Suddenly, there’s a call in her queue – it’s Christina again. Her WiFi went out again – Oops! This time their chat gets a bit more flirty when Christina asks what is Lauren’s pro for working on Christmas, other than it being quiet. “Wrapping presents” they both proclaim before laughing. That leads Lauren to mention a breakup over the holidays, how she called it quits. Now embarrassed for oversharing on a IT help call, Lauren apologises. But Christina understands, and then mentions how her ex-girlfriend broke up with her on Christmas Eve. But the WiFi is connected again, so they end the call.
A bit later in the evening, Lauren’s cell phone rings – it’s Christina! She realised that they work at the same company and therefore contact info would be in the employe files. Continuing the flirting, Christina tells Lauren to ask her a question. After a pause answering whether “Die Hard” is a Christmas film, Lauren mentions that that’s one of her six questions on her test. Christina mentions how she’s done working, perhaps continue the test over some egg nog? Unfortunately, Lauren works overnight and has plans with her family in the morning. “Snow check?” she asks, but also let’s Christina ask her a question back to be fair. After a quite easter egg answer for Lauren’s perfect date (April 25th, btw!), they have to cut it short when Lauren’s work phone rings. But before long, there’s a knock at the staff break room door – Christina is there in person, wearing a Santa hat with some egg nog! (Remember, they work at the same company). They continue to bond will sipping the eggnog, eventually leading up to the first kiss. Afterwards, Christina asks what Lauren’s six questions are – because she has seven of her own!
We skip ahead to the following Christmas. They both are getting out of the car and Christina is trying to wrangle all the presents – suddenly she drops one, goes down to one knee to pick it up while Lauren turns around to help… Christina proposes! It’s her “Eighth” questions – Will you marry me? Of course, Lauren says yes. They kiss and embrace while their family all spill out onto the porch recording the entire thing as the camera zooms out, and snow begins to fall.
I REALLY enjoyed watching “Holiday Help Desk”, though it was a bit tricker for me to find. (While it was released last year, it’s currently only available to rent or if you subscribe to streaming service.) The story is rather simple, and ultra cute. Both Shannan Leigh and Rachel embrace their characters, both of which are a bit quirky and unique. Shannan Leigh is rather comical to watch her just passing the time away. Together and over the phone, as they don’t actually meet face to face until near the end, they have a chemistry that is captivating to watch. A lot of this can also be attributed to writer Hillary Esquina, for giving them both a script full of humour and a couple jokes to boot! Visually, “Holiday Help Desk” has a lot to offer as well. Director Chelese Belmont frames our two leading ladies in different ways so that we don’t get bored watching two people sitting at their desks. And the final scene includes some great camera work: the full 360 degree pan around Christina and Lauren as they kiss and the aerial zoom outward towards the end while snow starts to fall on the neighbourhood. It was a beautiful way to end the queer short!
Yet for as much as I enjoyed this queer short, there were two issues I couldn’t ignore. The first one is the story itself – it’s a tad unrealistic; a bit more a cute daydream than reality. (Yes, I know I just gushed over how cute the story is!) But let’s face it, who actually flirts when they call an IT or support desk? It’d be utterly wrong and unprofessional for Lauren as the call taker to flirt with a client, though there’s a grey line between being polite and flirting… And for Christina to access HR records to get Lauren’s mobile number – yeah, that’s not quite appropriate either. Realistically, they both would be facing disciplinary action the following day – even though it’s quite cute and romantic! The second issue I had was the fact that a LOT of the film is simply way too dark; it’s hard to see. Yes, there’s a bit to be said for the light of the computer monitor highlighting Lauren’s face while sitting at the desk… but for both to be sitting in dark offices is a bit odd. And when Lauren is not at her desk, it’s even darker and thus harder to see what she’s actually doing to pass the time. There’s even ways to light a scene to show that it’s nighttime without being too dark. I just don’t think they were successful in this attempt which unfortunately was a bit off-putting. But despite these two issues, and the only reasons I deducted my rating, “Holiday Help Desk” is a cute romantic queer short!
While writing this review, I couldn’t help but smile as I recalled the plot to “Holiday Help Desk”. It’s just really, REALLY cute and romantic! The story is concise, rather simple, and allows us to witness the first interation between two woman who end up engaged the following Christmas. Seriously, if you don’t enjoy this queer short film, there’s something wrong with you! And given that there are significantly fewer lesbian films within the Queer oeuvre, this one is certainly a welcome and positive addition. Give it a watch today!