“If you’ve ever went through the loss of a loved one and have felt that depression we all feel, then Getting Lemons is a film you’ll definitely get a lot out of.”
by Nav Qateel
It doesn’t take a genius to work out Getting Lemons was a very personal project for writer and star Mary Elizabeth Boylan. The short film is wonderfully directed by Lisa Stadnykova, an actress and filmmaker whose previous directorial effort was the well-received comedic short Big Bully Bank, made in 2010, with Getting Lemons made two years later.
Mary Elizabeth Boylan held her mother while she tragically died in her arms, after suffering from lung, brain and bone cancer back in 2007. As if that wasn’t enough, Mary lost more family members, ended a long-term relationship and due to moving in with her mother in order to care for her, Mary found herself penniless. This entire set of events occurred within a 12-month period. The creative and therapeutic process of making Getting Lemons would have been a cathartic experience for Mary.
Mary plays Lizzy Boyd, a woman who recently lost her mother and we catch up with Lizzy in bed having a dream. Lizzy’s alarm clock wakens her up but when she picks the clock up to turn it off, it’s not a clock at all, but a lemon. Rather than freak out at this weird occurrence, Lizzy shrugs it off and gets ready to go to the church to give her mother’s eulogy. As Lizzy’s about to leave the house she finds a box of cut lemons on her doorstep, then as she reaches her car she’s being given a ticket for a parking violation by a woman wearing a bright purple wig. Instead of being given a ticket, Lizzy is handed a… lemon. Something’s not right.
When Lizzy finally reaches the church, she finds it’s filled with people she knows, only, they’re not quite themselves. A gay couple in attendance are hitting on the priest, and Lizzy’s mother’s nurse (played amusingly by Suzanne Whang, doing a stereotypical loud Asian woman routine) is shouting loudly at Lizzy in an attempt at lifting her spirits. To top that off, Lizzy’s father walks in with a gun in his belt talking like a mobster, and while Lizzy is trying to give the eulogy, her mother decides to start talking to her.
The writing from Mary Elizabeth Boylan with director Lisa Stadnykova co-writing the script was top-notch and felt like it went through several drafts to get it just perfect. Every line hit its mark thanks to Boylan and Stadnykova nailing the writing. Stadnykova managed the direction well, and when you consider the mix of genres called for within the space of just over 12 minutes–including a full dance number–you begin to realise just how large a task it all was.
The supporting cast each played their parts memorably, for without them, Mary Elizabeth Boylan wouldn’t have managed to put on her full showcase of talent, of which there was an abundance. Getting Lemons allowed Mary to display a wide range of skills, including writing, acting and dance. Sabrina Phillip’s choreography certainly helped with that and along with Kasia Middleton’s score and Sandra Valde’s cinematography, this small production felt larger than it had any right to be. If you’ve ever went through the loss of a loved one and have felt that depression we all feel, then Getting Lemons is a film you’ll definitely get a lot out of. It’s silly, surreal, uplifting and touching but it’s precisely what’s needed when you’re going through all those feelings after a death. An absolute gem of a film that should be made compulsory viewing for anyone who’s lost someone they love.