An intermittent feature on here over the last few months has been my discovery of the world of short films (you can read my other collections of reviews by clicking on the tag ‘film’ below) and it has been amazing how many links have been sent to me since I started, recommending this film and the other. It may take me a little while to get round to them all, but do keep the suggestions coming in.
Following on from the huge success that was her production of A Doll’s House at the Young Vic this summer, Carrie Cracknell has further explored Ibsen’s premise of a woman reaching breaking point in this short film Nora. Using the same lead actress Hattie Morahan but locating her in a modern-day context, Cracknell and collaborator Nick Payne depict a high-pressured world in which Nora struggles to balance looking after two small children with her job as an ad exec whilst her husband is away on business.
Zac Nicholson’s cinematography looks sensational in its muted colours and interesting focus points and if Cracknell employs the windblown hair look a little too often, she can be forgiven as Morahan’s deep pensiveness pulls it off in a series of beautifully moody shots. As a piece of storytelling, I’m not sure it holds quite the same power as as a modern woman, contemporary Nora has assumedly had much more control over her life and the choices she has made than 19th century Nora ever would have done, but there are neat hints at the way that Nora feels the entire world is against her, women as well as men.
Where Have I Been All Your Life is a BBC comedy short from 2007 although it has the air of something from a more classic era of that channel’s output. James Corden’s Liam has been hunting for his father and, via the internet, has now found him. John and Angela – James Cosmo and Imelda Staunton – welcome him cautiously but the fragile peace is soon shattered as revelations and skeletons come hurtling out of the closet.
George Kay’s writing has a neatly comic edge and relishes the interplay between its characters, especially as Angela and John argue using Liam as an intermediary, and there’s has to be an illicit thrill in putting filthy language into the mouth of national treasure Staunton. And Jim Field Smith’s film has a rather delicious skip in its step, characterised well by Katy Wix’s friend, ostensibly there for moral support but acting more as a devil on Liam’s shoulder. Lots of fun.
A bleak look at the difficulties in trying and failing to get over heroin addiction, Hollow is a quietly devastating little piece of film that I really rather liked. Written by Lee Thomas and Rob Sorrenti, the latter also directing, the story focuses on Alice and Marcus, a young couple in love and expecting a baby but also gripped in the insidious hold of heroin addiction. As the due date approaches and the social workers’ expressions become increasingly concerned, the pair try to stay clean but it is far from easy.
Beautiful music, fantastic editing and great cinematography ensure that this is a cut above your normal short film, and it is well performed too. Morven Christie reins in (some of) her natural brusqueness to bring a sympathetic side to the well-meaning Alice, helpless in the face of Martin McCann’s weaker Marcus who seems less capable of keeping clean. There’s also excellent support from Haydn Gwynne as a grimly determined but compassionate social worker and Nonso Anozie as a firm neighbour with good intentions.
I generally would watch anything with Juliet Stevenson in and this short was no different. Written and directed by George Taylor and also starring Eve Pearce, Quietus is the tale of two women, a whole bunch of cats and a mysterious murder. It’s rather amusingly silly, after a darkish beginning, and there’s some interest in the way that the mystery unwinds. Stevenson is good, naturally, but it’s not an essential piece of watching I’d have to report.