Family dynamics are always an interesting and intricate topic for films, but it can also go hideously wrong if the dialogue or narrative is poorly developed. When making a film that is focused on relationships it is imperative to make those relationships dynamic and well developed, otherwise the film feels flimsy and paper thin. Whales is an example of how to do this perfectly.
The film doesn’t rely on anything other than it’s characters and story, yet the settings are beautiful and the sound/music is understated but beautifully placed to aid emotion and pace. The music is perfectly chosen yet doesn’t detect from the interactions between the characters and their conflict. The rough unstable setting of the coast and sea mirrors the instability and turbulence of the relationships between the three main characters.
The three main characters are dealing with grief whilst also trying to navigate a new dynamic now that the third person has arrived, causing the conflict and rift between them all. Each character deals with their own problems whilst also trying to find out where they sit within this new situation and this is done via excellent dialogue and stellar performances by the three actors.
The production value on the piece is outstanding and each and every scene is shot with aptitude and thought. The whole package comes together to create a piece of film that is intriguing and encompassing. Performances from actors that hold the audience and bring to the surface raw emotion and very real experiences that resonate with the audience.
Whales is a strong narrative driven character study that utilises strong characterisation and well developed plot to investigate relationship dynamics within a unique situation. It avoids all of the usual cliches and tropes to deliver a film that stays with the audience after the credits roll.
It’s quite often the films with a simple concept that are the most impactful, because they are the ones we can so easily relate to. Voyeur takes an incredibly mundane, everyday idea of watching someone through a window and intertwines with something so true and heartfelt that it flips our expectations and turns into something incredibly personal and touching.
Voyeur is the perfect name for this piece. Not only are we, the audience, the voyeurs into the protagonists life but she is a voyeur into her family life at a time when she feels she should have a leading role. She gets snippets of information about her family much as we get snippets of information from the times we see her through the window. A clever way of mirroring story to theme.
The lead actress portrays the role with an ease and reality to the emotion that is endearing and heartfelt. Given that we get little context to the what is happening, and the limited insight we get into her life, the writing is so well done that we still develop a relationship with the protagonist and feel an empathy to her situation, not least because it is presented in a way that the audience can relate to.
The success of this film lies mostly within the simplicity of the way that it is presented. Nothing is put in the way to distract us from the narrative and the lead characters emotions. The whole film relies on the performance and the script, which works. We are drawn into this world from the outside, but what works is that we are kept on the outside. That is what creates the intrigue.
The fact this film deals with such an emotionally wrought topic in such a straightforward manner without overplaying the drama is what makes it so delightful. It doesn’t make an issue out of the topic and instead deals with it isn an honest and relatable way.
Films that have their basis in reality, or are in their essence a documentary, can often walk a fine line between factually interesting and boring. This can be avoided by creating something unique and diverse. This is what Sketches does. It takes a concept that has the potential to be mundane and turns it into something that holds the audiences attention.
The film does this by utilising a variety of techniques to tell it’s story. The voice over helps to tell the story without watching a face on screen, instead we are offered a variety visuals to help whet our imaginations appetite. Fictional film pieces are accompanied by archive footage, home video and beautiful sketches images.
The decision to use a variety of devices to tell this story is heavily reward by it’s effectiveness. It creates a film that entertains as well as informs. The artwork used is beautifully made and used perfectly within the film. It creates a unique piece that is a pleasure to watch.
The production quality is excellent given the variety of mediums that are used. Despite using a variety there is still a realism and honesty to the piece that runs through each different medium.
The voice over is honest and feels more like a conversation than a factual piece of text and offers a more human perspective that is often times missed in documentary style films, it helps to make the film feel more accessible and less formal which in turn helps the audience to connect to it.
Overall this is a well executed piece of film that provides strong visuals along with a well constructed narrative. It’s unique use of styles keep the audience intrigued and invested in the film which is difficult to do within a factual piece, yet here it is achieved and achieved with gusto.
The atmosphere of a film has a huge part to play in how the themes and plot of the film are received and understood. The colours, lighting and sound should all work to emphasise the emotion of the film, and here we see an example of how that can work in a way to enhance the rawness of a film.
The film feels gritty and laid bare much like the characters within it and it adds to the realism of hat we are shown. Tis realism is furthered by the display of seemingly mundane activities such as eating or watching TV interspersed within more dynamic scenes.
The dialogue is sparse but meaningful and delivered in a human and realistic manner. The settings used aren’t heavily dressed up and reinforce the realism and grit of the piece, which works well to tie in with the rawness of the narrative.
The film makes no apologies for what it is which only adds to its appeal, and its almost noir like quality. The relationships and characters are well developed within the film and the main characters motivations and drives are well established from the beginning.
The sound quality is grainy and rough which really adds into the overall aesthetic of the piece rounding off the overall effect that is achieved. Overall, the film achieves what it sets out to and feels like a harsh portrayal without any apologies for that. It’s a refreshing change to see a film that focuses on story rather than how to impress audiences with ridiculous CGI or other visual effects.
Money drives most of us, in one way or another, right? Without it we are unable to live or support those that we love. We cannot pay for the roof over our heads or the food we eat. We cannot clothe ourselves or do the things we enjoy. However, when we don’t have it or when we mismanage it, money can drive us to desperate measures. Debt, stress, anger, depression. Money can make us act out in ways we never thought possible.
In this short film this notion is pushed to it’s limit. When backed into a financial corner how for will we go? When there is a debt looming over us, one that threatens to cripple us, how far will we push ourselves when an opportunity to earn money is placed in front of us? Money pushes us to do the depraved and the unthinkable. Especially once it starts rolling in, it’s like an addiction and once you start, there is no telling where it will lead.
Here we see a short film that delves to these depths. The film utilises an impressive imagination to conjure up scenarios that make you squirm, make you vomit and make you gasp. It unravels the psyche to expose our greed and our consumerist need to own and to have, but it also shows our desperation to survive and to succeed.
Do we all have our limits? And are the above or below what we expected? This film is a strong example of exploring those limits and our own mental strength. A strong storyline that shows some originality, alongside an eerie and tense score helps to give this film its underground, grimy atmosphere that really works with he films themes.
An interesting watch, and an intriguing dive into the human mind.
What an incredible accomplishment in a film that is so simple and understated. I say this a lot in these reviews, but often the films that make the biggest impact are those that are the most unassuming. Those films that focus purely on the point they are trying to make rather than impactful visuals or over zealous FX are the ones that hit to the emotions of the audience.
Rooftops does this superbly, offering (almost) a single location and (almost) a single shot it focuses on the two main characters in a town they don’t originate from both trying to work out who and what they are in a world obsessed with labels. The film looks at identity and how we see ourselves. Is it based on where we are from? Our genes? Or how we feel at a particular time in our lives? Do we have to have a label or can we not just be us? Again, these topics are dealt with in a particularly straight forward way but one that is equally well developed and thought through.
The production value is strong, with beautiful continuous shots mixed in with close ups. Whilst the film is set in one/two spots on a roof, the direction is such that the characters placements add different textures and dynamics to the scene.
A wonderfully produced and directed short film with a well thought out script. Not overstated or in your face yet thoroughly engaging.
Unused potential is often one of the saddest things in the world, but using it is often one of the scariest. Lady Electric is such a simple, understated little film with such a devastatingly beautiful heart at it’s centre, and that heart shines through transforming it into something much brighter.
For a film that focuses almost entirely on an exchange between a carer and a patient, and with a running time of under ten minutes. it delivers quite the bang in terms of story and emotional impact. The characters interact well and their strained relationship is tangible, but so is their connection. Their is an obvious bitterness from the patient but once she sees something in her carer, something she recognises we see her change. This is where the true beating heart of the film comes into play, and where we see the depth of the characters come to the surface.
The dialogue used is well written and developed and never really feels expositional or unnatural, which is an achievement in itself. When you consider there are only two characters with a limited time frame it is even more admirable that the dialogue wasn’t more on-the-nose.
The performances are strong without being over the top or stereotypical and the cinematography/photography is simple yet effective. Though the production value is high, the film hinges on its story and characters and that isn’t lost at any point in the film, it doesn’t try to over-dramatise itself but instead remains true to its aims.
An honest and beautiful film that all involved should be proud of.