Herbert III is an adaptation of a play which takes place entirely within the bedroom of a middle-aged black couple, who are worried because their son - the Herbert of the title - has not yet come home. And for a short, it really does make a good play.

Our two characters are loving, stubborn, and well accustomed to each other's ways. The fact that their son hasn't come home from bowling leads to speculation of what kind of trouble he could be into, or have run across. The discussion is often political in tone, but never didactic, always reflecting the characters and their relation to each other.

The fact this was a play is obvious - there is an awful lot of talking, and very little actually happens in front of us. Film is a very visual medium, and while this is compelling material, it does not truly engage the eyes. There's some interesting camera work, but efforts there are obviously restrained for fear of outpacing the dialog. The result is a short that often feels like it'll never end - perhaps an accomplishment in its own right. Maybe a few more activities could have been worked into the script, but given that it takes place in the wee hours of the morning, there's not a lot that could be worked in that's not already there.

Still, the material works because it is compelling - the fact that film is the wrong medium for it doesn't prevent it from being watchable. I'd just suggest finding a live performance (especially if it features these two actors) before resorting to this recorded version.

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