It’s the idyllic social situation: a cosy coffee shop where individuals gather in their temporary solitude, each huddled over their own forms of distraction. Coffee To Go starts with a very calm, ordered and logistical scene with Mae, a lone woman intently focused on her Sudoku. When her crush walks in she immediately unravels into a quivering mess.
The pace of Mae’s transformation is most effective. We are given her rambling stream of consciousness, the deliberate punchiness of her internal speech sounding almost like a poetry reading. At times it’s stilted but on the whole it has a heartfelt fluidity, increasingly humanised by an explosive curse here or there. She hurtles through a range of emotions – irrational, insecure, pining, obsessive, and lots inbetween. As things are mostly in her head, the emphasis lies in body language and slight variations of nervous tension in her face.
Five minutes isn’t long to set up a story. Coffee To Go is brief and bittersweet, all tucked in at the edges. But while the situation as a whole is executed well, the potential between the two characters is not so convincing, lacking slightly considering her apparently electric attraction.
But the essence lies not in what happens after the story ends but in that moment of internal chaos. Even as Mae and Luke begin talking at the end of the short, her nerves are still apparent from fidgeting hands. It’s a moment that many experience in varying degrees of barely suppressed delirium. By grounding her panic in the internal and intimate before dragging it into external dialogue at the very end, it finds an angle that is both personal and universal.