Okay, so right off the mark the title got our attention. It's a cool title - it smacks of tech and intelligence. But what really turned out to be cool was that writer/director (and USC Film School grad) Avi Glick's short film actually lives up to it. The Theory of Optimal Control is pure creative filmic energy synthesized into 16 whip-smart minutes.
Our protagonist Adam (played perfectly by Jered Hobbs) is a brilliant control freak whose mind is most definitely not his best friend. In fact it really starts torturing him once he is dumped by his fiancee, inspiring him to plot deadly revenge fantasies with his best friend Lillian (Marcella Lentz-Pope - also perfect).
Boy after writing that above sentence, you'd think the movie was a depressing and lurid thriller but you'd be wrong. Dead wrong. Which is what makes this short film so good. There is a lot more that happens and it's completely unpredictable, surprising in its visuals and fits an amazing amount of character material in 16 minutes yet it never feels overstuffed. It's a perfect example of a filmmaker throwing a lot of balls in the air directing-wise and not fumbling a single one of them. Risky for sure - and most filmmakers would make a mess of this - but if you have the skill to pull it off, it can truly be dazzling. This might be one of the very best-paced short films I have ever seen. To maintain that level of intelligence and energy the entire time is an impressive achievement.
The Theory of Optimal Control was created by people who were smart, creative, skilled and inspired. It was made with care and inspiration. If Avi Glick is representative of the filmmakers coming out of USC's vaunted film program, then they are certainly doing something right within its walls.