Copper Penny (2009) – By Duane L. Martin

An unsure and sad looking man enters a hotel room with a prostitute and in the conversation that ensues, he tells her that he doesn’t know how this is all supposed to work, and then goes on to tell her that he lost his job, and his wife is never home, because not only does she work, but she’s been cheating on him as well, telling him she was only doing it for the sex. She’s the only woman he’s ever been with. The prostitute asks him what he’s looking for, and he tells her that he knows he’s not a good lover and he wants her to teach him, because maybe if he gets better, his wife will want him again. Will she help him, or will she send him away to face an even worse fate? You’ll have to see the film to find out.

At five minutes, this film is short and to the point. It basically shows us the final straw in a very sad man’s life. What I loved about this film is that when it’s over and you know everything that’s happened, you can really look at this guy and feel for him. His life has basically fallen apart, and this was his last desperate attempt to at least fix something in it, and yet you can feel that he only went into it half heartedly, not really expecting much to come of it. Norm Roth did a great job playing this character, and deserves some major kudos for feeling so human in his portrayal.

Michele Messmer played the prostitute, and until the end, I couldn’t figure out why she seemed so awkward about it. At the end of the film, it all makes sense, but I don’t want to reveal it all here. I’ll just say that if the ending had been different, I wouldn’t have cared much for her performance, but once you see what happens, you’ll know exactly why she not only played it that way, but also played it perfectly.

When I think back on the film, I still can’t believe it was only five minutes. It was one small scene of a desperately sad man’s life, and worked out so perfectly in that five minutes, that it felt like it was a longer film than it was. I think this had a lot to do with the slowness of the dialogue and the little pauses here and there. That’s not to say the pacing was overly slow, because it wasn’t. It was perfect for the story being told, and all in all, this is a very tight and well made production.

This film has won numerous awards at a variety of different films festivals, and after seeing it, I can understand why. Director Jay Pulk has created a very sad short film with characters that feel like real people rather than just characters in a film. Everyone involved in this film has a lot to be proud of, and I’m happy to say that it deserves all the awards and kudo it’s received…and more.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, or Jay’s other films, you can check out the Ion Films website at