In a small desert town, a mysterious radio show prompts Nan, a bored housewife, to find the courage to reevaluate her life and her marriage to her deadbeat husband. Nora Kirkpatrick’s Long Time Listener, First Time Caller uses a familiar context to tackle some larger themes and take us on a carefully crafted emotional journey to self-empowerment.

From the opening scene, the visual aesthetic of the film is striking. The close attention to all the small details in the production design instantly grabs your attention and forms a vital part of the storytelling. Immersing their audience inside Nan’s house, Kirkpatrick and her DP transform the space from a home into a kind of emotional cage our protagonist doesn’t seem to have the strength to leave.

Paired with the color palette and the score, the audience gets a pretty good insight into Nan’s state of mind and what her daily routine is like, without her uttering a single word. The bored housewife with a loser husband narrative is nothing new, however, it’s impressive how Kirkpatrick managed to avoid many of the tropes of the topic and steered clear of going down the all-too-familiar path towards over-dramatization.

With her main character needing something to break the monotony of her life, the idea of the radio show is a clever and surprising trigger for change and by avoiding the showing of the faces on the other end of the line, the audience’s perception of the narrative being told from Nan’s perspective is only strengthened.

Ultimately, what brings it all home though is Breeda Wool’s moving performance. When the camera is on her, and there are more than a couple of close-ups, she has a very genuine way of portraying the turmoil her character is going through. Nan is experiencing a lot of things at once and calling the radio show only brings to the surface all those buried emotions.

Wool’s facial expressions ensure the audience knows exactly how Nan feels and how everything affects her. From genuine excitement to deceit, from a sentiment of being stuck to the desire for more in life, Wool shines by how endearing she makes her character and most importantly she makes us root for Nan’s happiness.

Kirkpatrick is already a well established multi-talented artist. Founding member of the band Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, she also has a long list of credits in television. In front of the camera, she has appeared in shows like The Office and Greek, and behind, she has sold shows to Hulu, CBS, Comedy Central and new service Quibi (launching on April 6th).

She is currently working on her feature debut, while also being a staff writer on the upcoming Amazon series Daisy Jones and the Six, starring Riley Keough.