There seems to be a wealth of Short Films on the movie market of late. And by all indications, their number only appears to be expanding exponentially. Some really good stories with substantial talent infusing them are given an opportunity to find an audience with economy of both scale and running time duration. I recently had the occasion to watch two new entries into this growing group, “White Awake” and “Love, Gina“.
Short and sweet-I liked ’em both.
“White Awake” is the passion project of British filmmaker Alex Kyrou, who wrote, directed and edited this thoughtful tale of a young man looking back on his boyhood with feelings of crippling guilt. Hensley Lloyd Bennett’s performance as Joshua, the adopted only child of a middle-aged English couple, is deeply affecting, cutting close to the bone while revealing a suffering soul in desperate need of healing.
The movie’s title is reflective of the fact that Joshua is black, his parents, white. However, Kyrou does not make this dynamic the thrust here. His message is more universal-that family is not about skin color, race or heritage, but rather is involved with belonging, nurturing and connecting. That for each of us, family is of our heart, and not the physical shell which harbors it.
Meryl Griffiths is equally splendid as Joshua’s psychiatrist. Her soothing voice and comforting demeanor combine exquisitely to help her patient recognize an eternal truth-that we are not personally responsible for the choices and behavior of others. No matter how dearly we may love and care about them.
Composer Paul O’Brien’s strings-rich score for “White Awake” provides poignant instrumental accompaniment, heightening the film’s prevailing emotions of both pathos and compassion. But, ultimately, inspiring a redeeming sense of hope.
“Love, Gina” takes us on a whole ‘nother trip altogether from the journey followed in “White Awake”. Strange, dark and unsettling, Writer/Director Nicole Emanuel delivers the disquieting portrait of a detached and delusional woman who becomes completely unhinged when her tenuous grip on reality is abruptly severed by wickedly unwelcome news.
Megan Guinan (TV’s “Limitless”) is hauntingly beguiling as Gina, a lonely young lady immersed in a massively misguided search for what she perceives to be love. After her sweet dream of domestic bliss is irrevocably shattered, we watch as she descends into an autonomous nightmare. It is an unnerving odyssey, one which culminates in a shocking moment of swift and sick revenge, embodying vicious payback against unwary representation of the gender that has so cruelly betrayed her.
Larry Langton does a much more than credible job as Cinematographer for this provocative low budget project, displaying a keen eye for dimly lit scenes and shadowy images. Langton’s expertise lends significant amplification to the persistent sensation of disorientation and isolationism inherent in this ominous narrative.
The upshot gleaned from watching “Love, Gina”? Be careful with whom you flirt. Or, far more frightening, who you fu– with.
But perhaps the most resounding message one may extract is this…
Do not roam too close to the edge.