Written and directed by Meg Skaff, Linda LeThorn & the Music Box is a quirky short film about guilt, possession and moving on. Starring Aundrea Fares, Ashley Peoples, Timothy J. Cox and Susan Kirby as Aunt Lucinda the film focusses on Linda (Fares) , a socially awkward young woman who works as a pet sitter.
She gets a parcel from her Aunt Lucinda who has died, or is dying from brain cancer. Inside the box are items the woman treasured. Linda’s memories of her aunt are not overly pleasant. The woman has a thing about picking her skin.
Inside the box is a music box and it plays the Doctor Doolittle song “Talk To The Animals” the moment it begins playing Linda’s behavior changes. Her aunt appears to posses Linda via the box and she starts a “skin picking” club that she runs in a parking garage.
At the new club she meets Geraldine (Peoples) who is smitten with the pet sitter. The two bond and Geraldine throws the music box away. The very act changes Linda’s demeanor. Later it appears that the gift from her aunt was not disposed of.
Skaff has given us a melancholic and odd little film with an almost enigmatic protagonist. Linda’s aunt, someone she apparently lived with, would have driven anyone mad. Overbearing and loud the woman’s will is even pushy.
About Lucinda’s cherished possessions, she writes to Linda that they mean the world to her and that they will “Gosh darn it” mean something to Linda. The film also appears to poke fun at the average woman’s aversion to taking care of spots, boils or cysts on their own. (There is a montage of these items being squeezed, popped and prodded.)
In many ways the film is an almost abstract presentation of a lonely woman who feels overwhelming guilt when her aunt dies. Fares plays Linda as an almost monosyllabic creature who may, or may not, be mentally challenged or suffer from Aspergers.
She clearly identifies with animals and has issues dealing with people. Her panic attack after Purple Green (Cox, who gives the character that perfect blend of hissy-fit and major irritation) shows that she cannot handle life situations normally.
When Geraldine invites Linda on an away day, the pet sitter hardly responds. Although the dry pool does awaken something in the woman.
There are moments of odd hilarity. Linda soaks in a bath of olives while her deceased aunt shouts at her. Afterward she goes to the store dressed in a shorty bathrobe and passes out. Despite the quirky bits of comedy the message seems to be that memories of loved ones can keep them alive. Whether we want them to or not.
Skaff not only directed and wrote the film, she also edited it and worked on the sound editing. She also did the makeup and wardrobe. (Skaff even worked as the dolly grip.) It appears that Meg could give lessons to Robert Rodriguez on being a one person cottage industry. Although she did not film any sequences, something that Rodriguez does regularly.
The film’s music, done by Insula Dulcamara fits the story line perfectly.
Linda LeThorn & the Music Box is a 3.5 star film that is as puzzling as it it humorous. An interesting take on surviving the death of a relative.