In life there are many roads to travel and sometimes our paths align with perfect strangers that happen to be exactly who we need to run into at that point in our lives. This appears to be the case with Emma (Mela Hudson) and Judy (Tori Hall). They’re two completely different women who’ve led very different lives, but when both find themselves needing to make a trip to Western Massachusetts, they unintentionally become a part of each other’s journey.
Split Costs is a dramatic short film with a lot of heart by Jeffrey Palmer.
One Ride, Two Roads
Emma has it rough and gives off the vibe of a 30-something who ran away when she was a rebellious punky teenager in the 90s, and is still living the life of a runaway. She lives in her car, turning to petty crimes and busking just to eat and get by in this world. She’s decided to go see her mom since she hasn’t been answering the phone and while there, is hoping to be able to borrow some cash.
After placing an ad on a ride share site, she meets Judy. Judy, a strait-laced lesbian, has responded to the ad and agreed to split the cost of Emma’s adventure so she can surprise her girlfriend for her birthday, whom she’s in a long distance relationship with. Once Judy gets comfortable in the car, pops a mixed tape in the radio, they take off, the punk rock score helping the audience settle in for the ride, making for a smooth transition from the first act into the second act.
There was a stark contrast in these two characters and the differences in how they lived their lives, which lends itself to a milder odd couple type of pairing. In the everyday world, these are two women who wouldn’t likely cross paths and if they did, definitely wouldn’t have much to say to each other. But under the circumstances they find themselves in, there’s lots to talk about.
Judy and Emma are well-written characters who were brought to life in a realistic way by Hudson and Hall. They created relatable and well-rounded, flawed women who had a natural on-screen chemistry and ease with each other. Their banter was enjoyable as they probed into who each of them were and why they were headed to Western Massachusetts.
End Of The Road
While slightly predictable due to their chats on the ride steering the story this direction, once they reach their destinations, each woman is met with disappointment in the most extreme ways.
Judy is met with awful betrayal at the end of the trip. Without words she expresses herself well; powerfully portrayed by Hall, her heart shatters as we bear witness. She allows herself to feel her feelings and acts out, silently reacting in a way which expresses her hurt without hurting anyone else.
Emma walks into a nightmare and her world is turned upside down. With a strong performance from Hudson, this point in Split Costs actually had me fighting back tears. I felt her pain as if it was mine.
Met with the worst possible outcomes and nowhere else to go, Emma and Judy end up reconnecting and find a strange comfort in each other during this dark time for them both. This newfound friendship leads them to find a new direction as is evidenced by one of Emma’s last actions in Split Costs.
Split Costs was done simply instead of with state-of-the-art equipment, but it was done so well. It has a story that holds interest the whole way through and is supported by a talented cast. It was well-written, simply shot, and directed with heart; drawing genuine emotion from the viewer. Moreover, this drama passes the Bechdel test with flying colors.
Palmer was responsible for writing, directing, producing, shooting and editing the short. He did a fantastic job on all and I will definitely look forward to seeing more work from him in the future. This story packs a powerful punch with a satisfactory resolve.
Have you ever had a bonding experience with someone you met through a ride share site/app? Discuss in the comments!
We’re very excited to announce that Film Inquiry will premiering Split Costs’ online release on Thursday, September 1, so keep an eye out!