By Olivia Anderson | [email protected]
“What is the shelf life for this kind of career at your age?” a rather abrasive man asks at a fancy work event. The respondent, Aaron (with two A’s), looks pensively into the distance in a clearly disheartened manner.
Though he’s 65 years old, Aaron, played by Steve Lichtenstein, has decided to follow his longtime dream and begin a second career as an actor. He secures a lead role in a film, which initially brings him excitement, but then finds out the film doesn’t have enough funding and will not continue. As the voices and opinions of others start to enter and swim around in his head, fear slowly creeps in.
Aaron later repeats the above question during a meeting with his acting coach, Bert, played by Anthony Robert Grasso, as though he’s the one who thought of it. The nagging opinions of those around him have successfully penetrated his psyche, resulting in a somber, stark reminder of what it looks like for passion to fall prey to influence.
“Aaron With 2 A’s,” created and co-written by Lichtenstein and directed by Michael Goldburg, poignantly captures the delicious freedom of taking risks to live more authentically, as well as the subsequent insecurities and uncertainties that inevitably come along with deciding to tackle those risks.
In just 17 minutes, Lichtenstein skillfully architects a heartwarming story arc that follows an underdog trying to chase his dreams. He plays an endearing, likeable character that both the viewer and his loved ones want to shake several times throughout the film.
At one point, his wife, Judy, played by Pamela Jayne Morgan, finally gets fed up with Aaron’s growing doubts and says he’s starting to lose what she loves most about him.
“Is this why you act? To torture yourself, to torture me?” she asks, exasperated.
“No! I act because I love it,” he responds.
“Do you? Do you really?” she counters. The question acts as a catalyst of sorts, spurring Aaron into a period of intense self-reflection. He’s forced to come to terms with the trajectory his life could take if he continues on this destructive path, but he’s also reminded of the reason he pursued acting in the first place.
Throughout “Aaron With 2 A’s,” Aaron undergoes a dilemma that is all too familiar for many people. Changing one’s attitude and undergoing a mindset shift is easier said than done, but it starts by recognizing that we are often the ones blocking our own path.
At the end of the film, Aaron gets a call that his movie received funding and is back on. He’s excited, but by that point, he’s finally rooted that excitement in something much deeper.