The film begins, far away from Memphis in his cell, with the camera shooting across the inside of a crammed sedan stuck in traffic in Los Angeles. You start to feel a bit claustrophobic when the camera first reveals self-help books, vitamins and food wrappers across the dash and floor of the car, but you can sit back into your seat when you see a calm woman at the wheel, humming with the radio, as she drives in stop-and-go traffic on the Mulholland Freeway.
The woman, Donna, played by Salli Saffioti, is waiting for an important call from her doctor, and she jumps when her cell phone rings. However, it is not the call she is expecting but something entirely different – Memphis. He sits in his cell in Texas and, when she tries to hang up on him, convinces to stay on the line for just a few moments of comfort. When she asks who he meant to call, he says, "Whoever answers."
"Memphis Calling" accurately portrays the encounter between two people who have never met, over a phone call. Donna speaks sharply to Memphis, as any person would do to a man calling collect from a state prison, but soon finds herself telling him all that is on her mind, and why she is so eager to get off the phone. Memphis is relaxed, juxtaposing Donna's nervous and neurotic behavior.
Though the film does not go into great detail about the lives of Donna and Memphis, it does not need to. "Memphis Calling" is a simple, short film showing two strangers, both in tough situations, who are able to help each other just by listening to the other's problem. The movie ends when the phone call is interrupted, causing the characters to return back to their lives all too soon – but as changed people.