A woman gets her first tattoo on a lunch break. Then her friend wants one too. | Lunch Tattoo

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Lunch Tattoo is used with permission from Nick Luciano. Learn more at https://nickluciano.com.

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Roksana is going to get her first tattoo during her lunch hour, and her friend Nico is there to support her. Roksana is nervous, but Nico is caught up in the moment as his friend does something so out of character, and decides to get one as well.

But as Roksana embarks on the process, she begins to get very, very anxious — mostly because she realizes getting a tattoo has never been done in her family. Feeling both guilty and giddy, both decide to call their parents in the spirit of transparency — and get a reminder that they’re not as free of their ancestral patterns as they think.

Directed by lead actor Nicholas Luciano from a script co-written with lead actor Kimia Behpoornia, this witty comedy short captures a wise emotional truth: we’re never as free from our familial legacies as we think we are. The humor is multi-layered here, coming from both the dry humor of the crackling dialogue and the relatably neurotic characters plopped into an incongruous situation. Faced with the enormity of how the tattoo will break them free of their respective "anti-tattoo" ancestral legacies, Roksana and Nico freak out as the actual reality encroaches upon them, and all their foibles come to the surface.

The film’s opening emphasizes the punk-rock cool of the tattoo parlor, with the edgy music and aesthetics of tattoo culture, and it makes both friends’ presence even more of a contrast as they nervously wait for their appointment to begin. Roksana has brought Nico to support her, and he spontaneously decides to get a tattoo as well. But his receptiveness to "inspiration" and signs from the cosmos also backfires. Caught up in the moment of breaking free of their ancestral patterns of codependence and enmeshment, Nico decides they’ll Facetime their parents in the spirit of open, honest relationships.

Needless to say, things do not go well, although hilariously so. As Roksana, Behpoornia — currently seen in Abbott Elementary on ABC — captures the crackle of anxiety underneath her character’s surface, even as she’s doing her best to be cool. As Nico, Luciano plays the delicious irony of a friend who is supposed to be supportive but ends up whipping Roksana into a tailspin of worries, which only comes to a head when they FaceTime the parents.

The parents are played by Luciano’s and Behpoornia’s real-life parents, and they nearly steal the show by doing exactly what loving but overbearing parents do: express judgment, disappointment and heartbreak over their children’s decisions to "dirty" their bodies with tattoos, even as they make hollow gestures at "accepting" their eager-to-please children’s decisions.

Anyone who grew up with a loving but controlling parent will find the dynamic relatable, which gives "Lunch Tattoo" its resonance and grounds its humor in a very recognizable emotional reality. In the end, both Roksana and Nico find their way to move forward. It’s not the fully realized independence they imagined, but it’s a start.

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A woman gets her first tattoo on a lunch break. Then her friend wants one too. | Lunch Tattoo


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