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For the Meaning of "Prophetic," see 'Cooped Up'
May 14, 2020  | By David Hinckley

You’re never going to believe what was lying around in a box labeled “charming small films made in 2016 in Australia.”

Cooped Up, a charming small film made in 2016 in Australia, tells the tale of a man ordered to remain quarantined in his house for three weeks because he was exposed to another man who was diagnosed with a coronavirus.

What are the odds?

Whatever they are, the streaming service, Crackle, found Cooped Up, figuratively dusted it off and is making it available starting Thursday.

Cooped Up turns out to be a textbook small film, in every sense. It’s shot almost entirely inside a claustrophobic house, and aside from a couple of brief cameos, it only has two characters, who talk almost exclusively to each other.

Jake Ridge (Chuck Cottier, top and left) is an itinerant wrestler, somewhere in the lower-middle of that profession. He travels around doing shows, mostly getting beaten up, and as Cooped Up moves along and he confesses a few things, we get the impression he’s smart enough to be doing more ambitious things with his life.

He does this confessing to Dr. Emily Monday (Kathryn Beck, top and below), the epidemiologist assigned to monitor him during his quarantine.

She’s an infectious disease specialist who has worked all over the world. She has been assigned to Jake’s case because he has been exposed to the North African coronavirus, a wild card strain for which there is no vaccine.

He was exposed on an airplane because he sat next to a man who tested positive. So Jake was taken to a hospital, from which he liberated himself by overpowering a security guard and making his way to his nearby childhood home.

Unfortunately for Jake, no one has lived there for a while. The cable has been cut off, and there’s no Internet. He doesn’t have his phone because it was in his pants at the hospital, and he busted out wearing only a hospital gown.

There’s also no food in the house, except for a few cans of cat food, bringing Jake to the early crossroads of “exactly how hungry am I?”

Jake only fully recognizes his situation when he tries to leave the house and is ordered back inside by the police. They take this quarantine thing seriously, which means that for the next 21 days, it will be just Jake and Dr. Emily.

At first, they do not get along. She thinks he’s an unpleasant lug, and he thinks she’s kind of stiff. Astute viewers may speculate that this could change over the next 21 days. Meanwhile, writer John Ratchford and director Kane Guglielmi create 21 days worth of ways in which sitting at home by yourself with no TV and no phone could drive an already somewhat irritable fellow nuts.

It’s possible this concept, and therefore this film, will resonate more with viewers today than it might have resonated, say, three months ago.

But Cooped Up doesn’t require a captive and/or increasingly restless audience to tell a surprisingly engaging story about two likable people in a strange situation where the rules seem to be made up as they go along.

It’s good stuff, mate.

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