Emily and Jay are a new couple that share a night of passion. Capitalizing on that chemistry, Emily tells Jay that she wants to experiment with some “toys” with him. Jay is weary, but scared of losing a woman he has a connection with, he agrees.
Telling Emily he’s game, they first make a mortifying trip to a pharmacy to load up on supplies. And then the experiment itself goes awry, one indignity after another piles up. But the chaos gives the potential couple the opening to confess their intentions to one another, and perhaps take the next stage of a romance.
Directed by Simon Ryninks and written by co-star Omar Khan, this short rom-com is frank, sometimes raunchy but surprisingly sweet despite its prurience, thanks to its portrayal of honesty and vulnerability in the face of (incredible) discomfort and awkwardness.
Like many romantic comedies, it has a quick pace, a nimble but non-flashy approach to camerawork and a lightness of spirit, accentuated by the upbeat, percussive musical score underneath the action. The plot complications are on the mature side, but this works well with the vein of dry British humor that underlies the series of situations. The writing practically luxuriates in the comical juxtaposition of mortifying situations with characters who maintain their civility and reasonableness throughout it all, milking the contrast for maximum effect.
At the heart of the film is Jay’s desire to not lose Emily, with whom he has a genuine spark. Actors Lydia Wilson and Omar Khan have a natural, agreeable chemistry that’s pleasant, sincere and easygoing, and this rapport never flags, even as Jay suffers more humiliation in front of a woman he very much wants to impress.
Yet stifling one’s thoughts and feelings to please a partner is never a sustainable strategy in a relationship, a lesson that Jay learns as his embarrassment escalates. Yet the situation — along with Emily’s unflagging good humor and her willingness to stick with Jay through all he endures — also allows him to be upfront and honest about his feelings.
“The Plunge” takes a farcical situation but plays it for romance, and finds humor in the gaps between what we desire to be and how we feel. But it’s also perceptive in how openness and authenticity are the glue that connects and bonds people with one another. Jay takes a risk in the bedroom, which does not go as he expects. But the real risk is how honest he is about how he feels and what he wants, which pays off beautifully for him and Emily — and for viewers in a genuinely sweet and well-earned ending.
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