#DirectedByWomen – The Brass Teapot
There are a handful of films that slowly and accurately capture life’s ups and downs and Ramaa Mosley does it expertly with The Brass Teapot. Equal parts fable and satire this film is a brilliant examination of what it’s like to be down on your luck, find a solution, and realize the dark side to what you think is a miracle.
The Brass Teapot follows John and Alice Macey, a young married couple that live in small town America who are very much in love and broke. Alice is looking for a job. John is a telemarketer. They’re normal people with a few friends who appear to have it easy, and that makes them easy to sympathize with.
Then one day, Alice is drawn to a brass teapot at a roadside antiques shop. What seems like a normal antiquity soon becomes much more when it starts paying the couple for the physical hurt they inflict on themselves and each other. Soon, John and Alice need to decide how far they will go before the teapot consumes them.
There’s something so simple, and yet so novel, about a couple acquiring an object and then having that object solve their financial woes. When the couple does things like burn themselves, get a tattoo, fill a cavity, or get a bikini wax, the teapot pays out accordingly, and understandably, the characters experience a high from it. Mosley makes this idea not just twisted, but comical in a montage when the couple tries to milk the teapot for all it’s worth.
The influx of capital into John and Alice’s lives allows them the lifestyle they have been dreaming about. They buy a house and trade in their pinto. They’re finally able to compete with the friend who seems to have it all, but there is a dark side to everything, and while Alice and John are embracing their new lifestyle they also have to face the teapot’s dark past.
Woven in with John and Alice’s story is the myth of the teapot. Dr. Ling appears throughout the story, trying to warn the couple of what the teapot can do. But they don’t listen, and as the story continues, Alice and John’s narrative arc reads a little more like a cautionary tale of addiction with Alice driving them to continue to push forward and earn more money.
Similar to a high from alcohol or narcotics, the teapot doesn’t keep paying out in the same increments forever. Alice is taken in by this teapot, and enamored by what it can give her. She doesn’t want to give it up, and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to reach the couple’s goal of making a million dollars before they stop. This drive pushes Alice to extremes. As the teapot begins to demand more from them, she’s willing to expose her friend’s secrets and her own to get a payout, and as a result inflicts some deep psychological damage to do it.
But, it’s not a perfect metaphor. While the teapot has to be surrendered and not stolen to lose its power, there is very little chance that John and Alice will happen upon it again. But Alice’s journey throughout the film shows how easy it is to fall into a vice, and the courage it takes to dig yourself out; but she didn’t do it alone.
Things may have been different without John beside her, their yin and yang is a large part of what makes this story riveting. While at the beginning, people may question why Alice and John are together, by the end it’s clear: they love each other and they will stick by each other no matter what.
Alice’s blind ambition to make as much money from the teapot as she can is an important crux of the story, and plays well in counter point to John’s more tepid approach to it. It’s John who knows they can’t take the teapot money to the bank. It’s John who sets the million-dollar limit. It’s John who ultimately gets through to Alice to show her how this teapot is consuming her.
In the end, it’s probably best to think of The Brass Teapot as a microcosm of a larger story. While the teapot has a history, the film is concerned with this one couple. Through the Macey’s the film is able to gleam some insights into human nature while still being satirical and funny.
By Lauren Busser
Lauren Busser is a writer of fiction and non-fiction, and the Associate Editor at Tell-Tale TV. Her work has also appeared on Five::2::One Magazine, Bitch Media, and The Hartford Courant,. Her favorite genres of film include independent, historical, science fiction, and basically anything with a character-driven story. She studied writing and literature at Sarah Lawrence College. Say hi on Twitter @LaurenBusser or Instagram @madamedefarge