A young woman takes a new job at a bar and, after being introduced to the drag queen community, finds her eyes opened and her true real self in the short film Kings & Queens.
If recent years have shown anything, it’s that a change has begun to take place in films and television. People who were once only represented on a small scale, like ethnic minorities and those from the LGBTQ community, are now getting more chances to shine. It’s a great thing and if it weren’t for those recent changes, we may not have been able to watch this short film by Elmer J. Howard.
Recently dumped, living with her ex-girlfriend and in desperate need of work, Lucy (played by Emily Kokidko) is given an opportunity to prove herself at a local bar. The night her trial starts just so happens to be the busiest night of the week when a Drag show takes centre stage. Having never witnessed a drag show before, Lucy is enthralled with what she sees. The show sets in motion a change within herself. One that has been yearning to reveal itself for the longest time, and, like a butterfly, she begins to transform into her true self.
Kings & Queens is a well-made short, crafted with love and care from everyone involved. It reminded me of Coyote Ugly meets The Birdcage, minus the comedy. Yes, there are comedic moments throughout, but this is a short drama film showing the troubles a young gay person can have coming to terms with who they long and truly should be.
Kings & Queens has many good performances from the actors involved, Sara Brophy who plays Lucy’s ex-girlfriend Harper does really well, as does Lucy’s new friend and drag mentor Eric (Thomas Smallwood). It was also impressive to see Melissa Martin -the screenwriter of Kings & Queens- playing the bar owner Nikki too.
It is Emily Kokidko who really shines through. As Lucy, Emily shows a range of emotions as the character starts to change before our eyes. Lucy is stressed due to being penniless at the beginning of the short, upset due to her relationship breaking down, to being confused about becoming her real self. She has fun with the role too, especially when she is trying different men’s clothes on and performing to herself in the mirror, as she starts to develop her act. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kokidko be given some bigger opportunities herself, if she keeps pushing, she could very well become a star.
As aforementioned above, the short film is well made, and the cinematography is decent throughout, but I feel more attention to detail regarding the lighting was used during the bar scenes, which all look fantastic and make the daytime interior shots look rather bland in comparison. Still, those bar scenes more than make up for it. Also, the score by Francis Snyder is performed well, with many uses of an emotional piano tune throughout.
Kings & Queens is a good twenty-minute short film that is raised higher thanks to Emily Kokidko with her central performance. I’d definitely be interested in seeing what everyone involved does next.