It’s been over two years since COVID changed life as we know it, and we have seen our fair share of pandemic-set stories hit the big and small screen. From the good ones like horror flicks Sick and In The Earth to the well-meaning but forgettable The End Of Us to the downright abysmal Songbird, no doubt we’ll be watching movies about this era for a while. Little Jar—a quirky and downright silly isolation comedy that offers a fresh new perspective on isolation and human connection—is the latest entry into this genre.
Screening as part of the Whistler Film Festival, Little Jar begins in those confusing early days of March 2020 when many office workers were sent home for what was to be a two-week break as this virus sorted itself out. For Ainsley (Kelsey Gunn), being sent to work from home is a relief. Exasperated by her co-workers and neighbours, the misanthropic young woman is looking forward to two weeks of solitude—the only exception being the occasional contact with a food delivery person.
But as the lockdown continues with no end in sight, she begins to long for a connection. Enter Ulysses, a dead mouse clad in a very dapper outfit thanks to Ainsley’s ample free time and her need for a creative outlet. Ainsley opens herself up to Ulysses, sharing her vulnerabilities and the profound thoughts she has never dared share with the human connections in her life.
Directed by Dominic López, who also co-wrote the script with Gunn, Little Jar is full of whimsy and humourous moments. For introverts who spent lockdown alone, the film’s themes may resonate particularly clearly as they’re reminded of the importance of human connection and relationships, even for those who very much value their solo time.
As the only human on-screen for most of the film, Gunn does all the heavy lifting in the film as she divulges her innermost thoughts to Ulysses. The connection she builds with the stuffed mouse is both believable and genuine. The actress makes Ainsley likeable and identifiable, even in Little Jar’s most absurd moments. And rest assured, for a movie with a dead mouse as a co-star, those absurd and truly silly moments are what allow the film to rise above some of the more forgettable lockdown fare.
Though the plot is a little thin to warrant its 90-minute runtime, there is no doubt that Little Jar is a prime example of how creativity can flourish even in the most uncertain of times. Filmed over a two-week period during lockdown by a five-person crew, Little Jar may just be the most unique movie about isolation to come out of the pandemic so far.
Little Jar screens as part of the in-person Whistler Film Festival on December 2 and December 3, and is available as part of the festival’s online screenings across Canada beginning on December 5.