With the best of intentions, Barth makes a business proposal to Claudia…
Businessman Barth has booked a private room in a restaurant to propose marriage to his girlfriend, Claudia. In his own unorthodox style, he gets down to business.
“Good Business Sense” Trailer, Emmett Loverde
You’d have to have a heart of stone if you haven’t welled up at a from the heart, romantically themed wedding proposal scene in a film or TV show. I’ve sobbed at Colin Firth in his on-screen proposals often channelling a bumbling Hugh Grant. Be it as Jamie after he dashes to Portugal and proposes in really bad Portuguese to Aurelia in Love Actually (2003). Or as Mark Darcy to the titular protagonist in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004) and this sequel inexplicably leading to their apparent breakup in the trailer for Bridget Jones Baby (2016).
Love also appears to be in the air in Good Business Sense (2018), a romantic comedy that was written, produced and directed by Emmett Loverde. In the case of less is more, this film is set in just one setting and concentrates on just one moment from Barth(olomew) Braniff (Skyler Caleb) and his girlfriend, Claudia Sinclair’s (Janna Bossier) relationship. Yet this moment, in this short film of a sweet twenty-one minutes speaks volumes of the language of love… and business.
Claudia, a businesswoman arrives at a classy restaurant to meet with a yuppie type Barth for dinner. She’s a wee bit late, and once inside this restaurant, she’s taken by a waiter Spike (Paul Rogan) to a small and intimate and private room, where her dinner date is waiting for her. Spike, a self-confessed one-time business graduate, introduces himself to her as their condiment waiter and says he is solely there for providing accompanying sauces for their meal.
Barth has set up a projector, with a slide show. After he says that he does not wish to order drinks or food yet, Spike leaves. Barth hands Claudia a report and then starts his slide presentation on the cryptically titled Projections of Success, The Future Will Be Ours. He’s in control, business like… and emotionless. Claudia has no choice but goes along with this.
She asks what’s going on, as he gets right down to business. He launches into some forecasts about their future and reels off some stats. This is when you learn they are actually in a relationship… as he explains the stats show they have a 92% chance of success… should they get married, and she accepts his wedding proposal. He is clinical, remote and without a hint of warmth or affection. With the jargon he’s using he could be proposing a business idea.
He instructs her to open a box with an engagement ring. She seems quite genuinely happy, and she says she’s speechless. Instead of getting supersoppy, falling down on one knee, he then goes through detailed slides with graphs, more stats and researched findings to show her how their life will be. Claudia however is keen to eat something, as she has fasted all day… this was at his request, in a text. She wants dumplings, sauteed dumplings.. but he refuses to order food as he tells her that she will be more “receptive” with an empty stomach.
Spike brings some bread, Barth sends him away with the bread untouched. She’s desperate by now and downs some sauce that Spike brought with the condiments. Barth then goes into detail about their wedding, which he has also planned to the letter. He has even booked the church for them in April. He won’t hear of changing it to a date in June that she’d like… and he continues to outline his plans for them… he doesn’t even notice she choked on the sauce and needed water. But Spike had.
She is ravenous by now and orders some food. But her choice is overruled, as Barth has already organised their choice of the evening meal. This was after he asked the girls in his typing pool to decide on this matter. He tells how the women even sampled it but she’s not happy with their choice of ratatouille. She’s getting exasperated and she challenges Barth and asks if he thinks all girls think alike. He thinks they do.
After watching this couple and seeing Barth in full tilt business mode, and sensing Claudia is getting riled, Spike takes over with the presentation. There are later slides that cover weight gain after her pregnancies – Barth has graciously allowed her some weight gain – and his possible infidelity – which won’t happen, but it could and it’s now out there as a possibility. Barth then says he loves her and believes he’s a sound investment. She wants time to think about his proposal. But he is adamant about an answer to his proposal that night, as a fortune teller said tonight is the night…
Claudia spills some drink on her dress, she leaves the room. She asks Spike to call her a cab and to distract Barth with a phone call… and confides the night going badly. Spike suggests to her to look at what Barth is really saying… and he tells Barth to try a different approach for his marriage proposal.. and if you want to see if she accepts, you know what to do.
In reading about the film, I learned this film won five awards including Best Satire at the Culver City Film Festival in 2018, Best Writing at the Enginuity Film Festival in 2019 and Best Comedy in the Grenada Afterglow Film Festival in 2018. This film was written about in an Around the Panhandle article HERE. It reported that Loverde – a UCLA theatre graduate – had the Eureka moment for this play’s plot when he worked for an Investment Banking Company. Loverde stated;
“The investment bankers are an interesting crowd. They are usually highly intelligent, go to the top business schools and then work like slaves. There were showers at the office, a place to sleep because the company expected them to stay there all night. And I got to wondering what these guys love life must be like.”
This then led to him writing his play which tells about a man who can’t switch off from thinking business 24 hours a day. This “business sense” takes over him so intensely and is seen to such extremes, that he can’t even communicate what he wants to say, on this the most important night with his girlfriend.
I loved all the performances in this movie. The performances convincingly complemented the plot and conveyed their character traits so well. Rogan as Spike was refreshing, upbeat, quirky, and a likeable character. Like his condiments, he brought a subtle touch of humorous flavour to the on-screen events. As a one-time business student and now waiter, Spike saw both sides of the situation. He observed Barth’s relentless and determined proposal veiled in business-like communication and Claudia’s emotional responses to Barth’s extreme behaviour.
Spike then gently gave his insights to this couple individually – and tactfully – into how they could understand their partners. This helped them see what their partner was really telling them. One wonders if this insight was perhaps from personal experience or as a waiter having seen more than his fair share of observing lovers of all kinds in their interactions in the restaurant.
Barth was business-like in all his interactions and got flustered when things turned unpredictable. After Claudia leaves to tend to a spillage, he seems frustrated that his business presentation hadn’t “clinched the deal”, and seems to have no insight into his business-like approach.
After he explained to Claudia what the fortune-teller had told him, in words and feelings, this explained his motives behind the content of his presentation. Translated from his jargon this seemed to say that he wants to marry her, their marriage to be a success and he will love her even if she puts on pregnancy weight. Yet he’s so consumed in marrying Claudia, his business head has taken over. Thus he produces personalised stats, graphs and research rather than talk from the heart…
In listening to this apparently dry presentation, Spike asks Claudia to see Barth’s intentions behind those stats, graphs and that qualitative research from those girls at work. It seems that he wants her to give her full attention to his marriage proposal (having done research on fasting, this is a proven method to get just that) and hopes she won’t say no (he says, it would be “wrong”… in a rare burst of emotion), he wants to make her happy (he’s followed her to discover what she wants) and he knows (albeit through research findings) they’ll have good a future together.
However, he seems to have forgotten she’s a woman first, a businesswoman second. She wants to hear more heartfelt, loving plans for the future, not cold numbers and facts in a slide show. She wants romance and this is clear in her passionate, warm and giving kiss. As he responds to her kiss he appears slowly to let go and be himself. Then he’s just a man with a woman.. and that’s a man she wants. What every woman wants.
A disclaimer and personal thank you to Emmett Loverde for asking me to write this post. Financial compensation was not received for this post. However, I received a copy of this film in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed here are my own. I would also like to add that Emmett Loverde kindly provided these stills and this trailer and personally agreed to me using these in my blog. If you are involved in the entertainment industry and would like to be featured or promoted here, please drop a line to me via my Contact Me Page.