WINK is a 3 minute short film by Abel Rubenstein consisting of a group of young queer punks who take back their favourite pub after it becomes overrun with straight people.
The premise is rather simple, so the enjoyment for this short lies mostly in the execution – which is excellent. We open with shots of the gay and trans pride flags that adorn the pub walls, while a beautiful rendition of Schubert’s Ave Maria plays. Our queer punk protagonists are looking rather sad. The ardent voiceover that will guide us through the whole short begins, calling the group of queer punks beautiful but despondent. The reason? The straights have taken over.
That’s right. This wonderful queer punk pub has been flooded with straight people. A group of males who look like real lad types chat loudly near the bar. A group of straight girls take pictures with the trans icons whose pictures are framed and on the pub wall. Then, a straight couple have the audacity to kiss, and what’s worse still is – and this is the most egregious of all – the man WINKS at our queer punk protagonists afterwards. That’s the final straw. Something has to be done. (But not before the main rebel throws up in the garden.)
WINK is delightful, and if it sounds silly, it’s because it is. The voiceover is wonderfully full-hearted (“...are you winking at me?! Fuck you!”) and by the end, when the queer punk rebels manage to drive the straights out of their pub, it’s impossible to not have a smile on your face.
While it’s always amusing, it does also touch upon an important subject: non-queer people encroaching on queer spaces. The setting of WINK feels important too. How many queer pubs are there, really? There are an insane number of pubs in the UK, and frighteningly little of them will feel like a safe space for LGBTQ+ folk, especially considering the usual crowds that you can find in any given local.
By the end, the gentle and subdued Ave Maria is replaced by the queer punk’s live music, featuring drums and electric guitar and vocals that consist of the passionate delivery of the lyrics “MY BODY MY CHOICE.” The sudden live punk performance, along with the fervent dancing of the queer group, drives away the straights and our formerly despondent protagonists are able to reclaim what is rightfully theirs.
WINK is a lot of fun. It feels like a love letter to queer punk and despite perhaps being made for a niche audience, it is easily enjoyable for anyone outside that target demographic. If you have just 3 minutes to spare (and realistically, everyone does), it is definitely worth checking out. Maybe it’ll inspire a passion from deep within you and make you want to join a movement. If not, at least you’ll have fun.