"Mergers & Acquisitions" is an unexpectedly powerful short film that addresses the issues of greed and materialism in relation to homelessness. Gavin Richman is a wealthy, powerful and ruthless business executive who is on his way home in his Porsche convertible from his office in downtown Los Angeles when he becomes the target of a a group of muggers who pop his tire and force him off the road. They win his trust by pretending to be mechanics, but then pull a gun on him. They take his car and his wallet and then knock him out. When he regains consciousness, he is tied to a pole, beaten up and stripped of his expensive business clothes. From that point, Gavin Richman is a 'homeless bum' in the eyes of the world.
The director and the actors (Mark L. Taylor and Joanne Lipari, who plays a homeless woman who helps him) manage to portray the homeless in a way that is extremely realistic. We see the world from inside Gavin's perspective, as he fights for food, gets to know other 'bums' and desperately dresses up in filthy old rags that replace his clothes.
There is one scene that I thought was especially effective: before he is robbed, Richman stops at a traffic light, where a homeless man asks him for money. The contrast between the smug, impeccably dressed and groomed executive in his Porsche and the needy homeless man is dramatic. Richman insults him and speeds away, running over his meager belongings. The following night, the tables have turned. Richman has been transformed, and is now reduced to the homeless man's level. He accepts the offer of rags from this same homeless man, AFTER he has been stripped of the expensive tailored business suit, necktie, white shirt and polished shoes that had provided protection for him, along with his stolen car and wallet. It is a powerful moment.
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