Short Film Review #9

It’s been a little while since I’ve watched any short films but I had a few link sent to me last week so I thought I’d cast my ever-beady eye over them to see what treasures might be unearthed. As ever, click on the ‘film’ tag to see more short films.

First up was Babysitting, written by Lucan Toh and Sam Hoare and also directed by the latter, but most attractive for its cast including Romola Garai, Dan Stevens and Imogen Stubbs. And from its opening shots of a bedraggled Garai and a super-glam Stubbs, it is rather a bundle of subversive fun. There’s a bit of a twist to the title that I won’t reveal here but it is one that sends Garai’s Maggie on a bit of a journey, where she bumps into arrogant ex Spencer, Stevens in fine West London toff mode and her priorities are pulled skewiff as old feelings rise to the surface. The pair are well-matched and amusingly styled and if the film as a whole comes across as a little slight, it is highly entertaining.   

Sue Dunderdale’s Mine was undoubtedly a grim affair – an urban tale of racial and sexual disharmony set in Kentish Town which probably reflects a lot of what life feels like for the youth of the area but made for sometimes hard viewing. The bond between Milly and Thomson is tested first by the difficulties that her mother has with their interracial relationship but then further stretched to horrific near breaking point by the actions of his friends. It is bleak and obdurate in its portrayal of the cheerlessness of inner-city life and the everyday image with which Dunderdale frames both the beginning and the end has a powerful recognition which grows to become highly ominous.

Best is a short but sweet film which was originally penned by Adam Brace for the Royal Court’s 100 words season where people were invited to submit plays that were 100 words in length. Consequently it is only a couple of minutes long but packs in some highly sexy romance in the few moments before a wedding will considerably change the relationship between these two people. There’s some properly fizzing chemistry between Terry Doe and Jotham Annan and director William Oldroyd is unafraid of getting right in the middle of their business with some uncompromising up-close camera-work. Perhaps not one to watch with your mother.

Written, directed and produced by Leon Lopez, Hiding in the Shadows is an emotionally raw two hander  between an (allegedly) ex-junkie and his former partner as he makes tentative steps to recovery by confronting the anguish of the shared past between them, which was blighted by his addiction and failure to kick it. Craig Stein is all therapy-speak and apologetic mumbling in the face of Francesca Jackson’s world-weary executive who’s heard it all before yet sees the signs that maybe something is different this time. Lopez’s hand-held approach has a great immediacy which works well with the film though I found the score a little insistent and indeed oppressive during some moments – I’m not sure it needed such accompaniment as it is a strong little piece of drama in its own right.

As last up, recommended by a kind commenter and Tom Mison fan, was Steve. Rupert Friend certainly used the top end of his little black book to cast this film, Now-ex-girlfriend Keira Knightley  (doing an accent, one that sounds a lot like Kelly McDonald) and Tom Mison are a yuppie couple, squabbling but essentially loved up in their cushy flat but plagued with visits from their increasingly obnoxious neighbour, an impressively sociopathic Colin Firth. Friend employs some lovely touches throughout, in the inventive way the credits are done, the counterpointing of the sounds in the kitchen and with actors like this, it is luxuriously good fun.

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