Short Film Review #13

Films films everywhere.


The Young Vic have previously come up with a couple of films inspired by the plays they’ve put on – Nora was a spin-off from A Doll’s House and Epithet came from by Bingo – and now, although a little bit behind the times, comes Bed Trick, inspired by Joe Hill-Gibbins’ raucous adaptation of Thomas Middleton and William Rowley’s The Changeling which was a big success for the venue. Again taking a modern twist on a classic story, Hill-Gibbins has written and directed this short which plays on the idea of the ‘bed trick’, so integral to the plot of theatre of that time, and transplants into a modern home where Sinéad Matthews’ babysitter arrives at a plush home to be greeted by Monica Dolan’s grateful wife who is keen to offload her responsibilities for the evening.

Quite what those responsibilities are is the subject of a little misunderstanding and that is the rather amusing meat of the story, which I won’t reveal, and though the whole thing may come across a wee bit slight in the end, it is undoubtedly entertaining to watch. Dolan and Matthews are both actors I could watch for days on end and neither disappoint, Matthews unleashing her gorgeously throaty giggle on more than one occasion and Dolan bringing her intense gaze with its almost hypnotic quality. It’s decent stuff, hardly essential, but worth the time.

 

Stars from Eoghan Kidney on Vimeo.

For reasons I’m not entirely sure about, I have prejudices against animated film which I constantly have to try to overcome. I rarely choose to see it myself and so I have to be persuaded but I am coming to see how powerful an art-form it can be. Eoghan Kidney’s Stars managed to do that perfectly with a heart-rending tale of how a fatal degenerative disorder impacts upon the lives of Brian and Sophie as she is given six months to live. Animation actually proves a brilliant way to try and communicate how such a syndrome might play out, with hallucinatory synaesthetic episodes utterly disorientating Sophie as she slips away from real life.

Ruth Negga voices Sophie with a tenderly hushed sensitivity, which is matched by the deeply understanding and unwavering presence of Domhnall Gleeson’s Brian, who never leaves her side. But the animation by Delicious 9 is the thing, finding a strange beauty in the way in which the side effects alter Sophie’s perception of the world around her, of her lover Brian, even of her own self. You probably already know how effective animation can be as a richly complex storytelling tool so you’ve no excuse not to watch it!

 

In The Bathroom from Olivier Venturini on Vimeo.

Written by Howard Overman, In The Bathroom is a glossily enjoyable piece of film that tells a Mr and Mrs Smith-inspired story of a warring couple in the aftermath of a heist. In a hotel room, Enzo Cilenti’s Man and Sienna Guillory’s Woman are doing battle over a suitcase that contains their ill-gotten gains, each trying to outdo the other with in their devious ploys but both enjoying the thrill of their interplay as much as trying to better their adversary. French director Olivier Venturini brings a highly cinematic sheen to the film and it twists and turns most pleasingly even over the relatively short running time.

The End of the Line from Max Pugh on Vimeo.

Sometimes one is left in awe at the creative ideas of others, the way in which people come up with concepts and visions that step outside of the norm. Max Pugh’s short film The End of the Line may not be particularly ground-breaking stuff but its art direction is simply gorgeous, it looks stunning in unique way it portrays a tube journey through the eyes and minds of David Oyelowo’s commuter and Miriam Margolyes’ bag lady. The tale, written by Simon Miles and Max Pugh, is simply told and beautifully affecting and Margoyles is perfectly cast as the kind of person one all too easily avoids on the tube, regardless of what the consequences might be.

 


Coming across like a more comic episode of This Life or a dirtier Cold Feet if it were actually funny, Mat Kirkby’s Hard To Swallow has a strongly 90s vibe about it, in its extremely messy dinner party set-up. Three couples spend the afternoon together but over multiple bottles of wine and lines of cocaine, the fracture lines in their relationships are magnified as tangled personal histories come into play, unexpected visitors make their presence felt and uncomfortable truths are aired.

It’s not a particularly sophisticated piece of writing or indeed film making, feeling like a snippet of a piece of television more than anything and the performances also occupy a similar territory of being solid rather than spectacular. The likes of Katherine Parkinson, James Lance and Richard Herring all tread water with familiar characterisations, Daisy Haggard pops up at the end which is a shame as her comic skills aren’t utilised here, only Nicholas Burns really made his mark for me. You can watch the whole thing here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *