Written and Directed by: Irhad Mutic
Cast: Samuel Portugal, Henreau Kruschev, Morgan Schragger
The charm of a boy falling in love with the girl across the street has been told in so many stories that it would be easy to dismiss a new one on sight. But Bruce wastes no time and gets its point across in under three minutes. Evoking Wes Anderson in its style, the story looks at what happens when a bullied boy named Bruce trains to fight a masked ninja in order to get to his crush across the street, Louisiana. Everything that Bruce tells us is through his inner voice. As performed by the voice of a world weary man, it says a lot about how Bruce sees himself – a capable fighter ready to face the ninja, even donning the jumpsuit style that his namesake, martial arts icon Bruce Lee, made famous.
It helps that the narration is minimal and that Samuel Portugal, who plays Bruce, does well at getting pre-teen awkwardness and determination across naturally. Despite the lack of frenetic action during the climatic showdown, the film gets resourceful with its close-ups and efficiently highlights the action that does take place proving that it did not need to turn into a big, choreographed sequence to show Bruce’s willingness to fight the ninja getting in the way of his love. The fight, and the short, ends with a twist that is both cute and awkward, the way teenage romances usually are.
Bruce is colored with an autumn glaze that relaxes the viewer to get into this boy’s life and the intensity that colors childhood. By ditching glitzy, gimmicks directed towards its action or aesthetic, the film says what it wants to about what it feels like to be a kid in love with a problem, and makes it with effectively minimal points. This is simply a sweet and entertaining three-minute getaway into the odd ways a boy takes to get to love.