Short Film Review #24

Call Register is the perfect film for anyone who has issues about what mobile telephones have done to our lives. Martin Freeman’s Kevin borrows his best mate’s phone to make a call, James Lance’s Julian, as he wants to set up a date with a girl he’s just met, Neve McIntosh’s Amanda. But Julian’s phone recognises the number and through an series of short phone calls, writer and director Ed Roe details much of the awkwardness around dating, especially when a friend has already been there first, and also adroitly explores the uniquely modern perils that mobiles have brought to the way in which we communicate. There’s much to enjoy here, not least the understated charm of all three actors, and also much that will be painfully familiar to anyone who’s ever called someone up for a date.

Does Maxine Peake ever disappoint? It doesn’t appear to be so and in Stealing Up, with her hair beautifully pixie cropped, she delivers another of her evocatively heart-rending performances as a daughter returning home to visit her mother. It is a difficult visit though because something is clearly up with the older woman and though it is a short short film, it is sensitively, heart-breakingly delivered like the throb of an exquisite kind of pain. Sharp and beautiful, over too soon.


When a newsreader declares that climate change could mean the end of the human race, Steve decides to radically change the way he lives his life in Gerard Monaco’s comedic short film Energy Saver. Elliot Levey is hilarious as Steve, who finds himself questioning every decision, every choice to see how it impacts on the environment – starting at shutting down his computer properly for once to using sand to clean his body instead of wasting water. It’s funny, especially with the voiceover technique, but it is also underscored with a serious side which makes it engaging as well as entertaining.


Cheese may makes you dream but Kara Miller’s film is more likely to give you nightmares. A brief snip at just under six minutes, Tamsin Greig’s Charlotte turns up on Dudley Sutton’s ageing Jim’s doorstep with a too-good-to-be-true deal to offer to maximise his pension. But it’s not quite as clean-cut as all that and Miller takes Cheese Makes You Dream into a much darker place that is highly effective for its brevity and chilling enigma.


A thing of delightful silliness which although coming close to outstaying its welcome, is worth a shot. Matt JL Wheeler’s Mancrush sees two blokes, Oliver Chris’ Paul and Blake Harrison’s Will, trying to outdo each other over a cup of coffee in terms of who is better friends with their mutual mate Dave. And that’s it. They bicker, they boast, they pretend-fight with pineapples and both get their heart broken – director Tony Hagger keeps things lively so that the repetitiveness doesn’t get too wearing but it is hard not to think it could still do the same job more effectively with four minutes or so shaved off.


There’s not too much I can say about Jade Syed-Bokhari’s Unrequited Love that won’t give it away and given it comes in at just under 3 minutes and stars Max Irons, you might as well give it a shot, not least for its effective final message.


Ooh, what an absolute cracker this is. Written and directed by Des Hamilton, Behind The Door is a superb piece of film, toying with our expectation and understanding about what is happening to eventually hit with a sledgehammer blow as the threads of the story come together in its final moments with stunning clarity. Rafe Spall is extraordinary as games teacher Bobby, who is nurturing a huge secret and near-wordlessly conveys the anguish and trauma that is eating him up inside. Kate Ashfield provides sterling support as partner Joss, struggling to reach past his barriers, but I can’t recommend this highly enough, genuinely excellent.

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