Sam and Sinéad play out their past, but something is different this time around.
One of the most striking aspects about this story of young love is how well it encapsulates the very concept of romantic nostalgia. Hinging on the question of ‘what if?’ the story follows two former young lovers as they reconnect as adults. As they find themselves at the threshold of decisions that cannot be undone, they retreat back to a time of wonder, love and promise.
As a film that restricts itself largely to one location and almost entirely to its two central characters, any sense of depth or scope rests on the shoulders of the films leads. Thankfully, the film is led by two actors who very much prove themselves up to the task. Gráinne Good as Sinéad and Alan Hall as Sam throw themselves into the lives of two soulmates, desperate to go back but being dragged forward. As Good and Hall pull triple duties as lead actors, producers and writers, it is unsurprising that they are able to master the text so well, however the passion and vulnerability with which they approach their respective roles is captivating.
Managing to pull off portrayals of their characters at different ages is a feat in itself, but you can almost see the weight of the intervening years as they confront each other in the present day. The story hinges largely on one conversation so Good and Hall really only have one shot to sell the turmoil and fear that Sam and Sinéad are dealing with. Their fear pushes them to go from intimacy to accusation, from regret to recklessness without giving the viewer emotional whiplash. They very much sell the idea of two people living inside a dream in the final throes of death.
Director Daniel Topic wisely leans into the performances that his two lead actors provide. Topic crafts visuals that deftly accentuate their state of mind. At one particularly pointed moment, he uses the sound mix to weave a flashback into the present day, taking the audience back to Sam and Sinéad’s love-filled past without ever leaving the room.
This is a film that is very much a vehicle for its actors and as such can feel more like theatre than film as times, however Topic finds ways of making this work to the films advantage. Due to the stark and boarder line overexposed white room that the majority of the film happens in, when we cut to flashbacks of Sam and Sinéad on a park during their youth, surrounded by city lights, the burst of colour and sudden shift to hazy dusk contrasts wonderfully with their monochromatic present day dilemma.
Despite being locked into a single location, this is still a visually engaging short film. It makes the wise decision not to be flashy and instead allows the performances of Hall and Good to draw the audience into the crisis point of Sam and Sinéad’s love story. This is a story exploring the road not taken and the one who got away, that gives the characters the option of taking that road and contemplating what that would actually mean.
The creative partnership of Gráinne Good, Alan Hall and Daniel Topic, backed up by a solid crew are able to bring us a beautiful and contemplative love story. This deep dive into lost love, second chances and regret is a perfect premise to explore the realities of adulthood and whether enduring connections can do more harm than good. A thoughtful, considered and emotionally powerful short film.
Studio: Rockadolla Dogs/Royal Central School of Speech and Drama | Year: 2021 | Genre: Drama/Romance | Duration: 12 Mins | Suitability: Mature
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