Updated: Mar 3, 2022
George, an expectant father, looks to escape his demons after a car accident.
Perhaps the most sobering thing about Tom Ruddock’s moral dilemma, wrapped in a short film, is just how matter of fact it is. At no point does the film go out of its way to underscore the emotional stakes with impressive shots, manipulated sound or an overly dramatic swelling score. The situation in which the film’s protagonist George (Jack Brett Anderson) finds himself is so gut churning that the drama speaks for itself.
Unsurprisingly, the film is carried by the performances of its two central characters, Jack Brett Anderson’s George and Lucien Laviscount’s Henry. Laviscount pulls double duty as both moral anchor and audience proxy and does a fine job of both. Having to transition from excited friend to terrified friend in such a short space of time, allowing the audience to drink in the shifting sands of his crumbling reality is no easy task, but Laviscount pulls it off with an understated excellence. This is crucial as it effectively replaces the horror and realisation that George has already had by the time the film starts. George begins the story with his world already shattered and Anderson’s embodiment of sheer panic immediately puts us on edge without having to provide any exposition whatsoever.
Anderson does a fantastic job of portraying a man who has to face up to his very real responsibilities. Ruddock as writer and director creates a compelling and intriguing point of principal by juxtaposing this with another sacred responsibility in the form of the imminent birth of his first child.
This section of the story introduces yet another set of performances that do incredible heavy lifting with very little presence and technically no screen time. Lydia Orange as Abbey, George’s partner and soon-to-be mother of his child, does brilliantly heart wrenching work as she keeps trying to reach her absent partner, leaving him voicemail messages to find out where he is. Similarly, Sarah Langton as George’s mother provides a tragic blend of anger, confusion and fear as she too attempts to decipher what has gone wrong. Both characters act as powerful foils for Anderson, allowing him to heighten his performance and dramatically accentuate the tragedy of the film’s premise.
Ironically, this may be one of the few instances where “phoning in” a performance is actually a good thing. Abbey’s periodical voicemails highlight her physical absence, which in turn highlights George’s absence from the most important people in his world, made all the more unbearable by the possibility of the permanence of that absence. Both Abbey and George’s mother also represent a ticking clock, putting a time limit on the decision George has to make, thereby heightening the tension for the audience.
Ruddock keeps this film to a healthy 10 minutes, nicely pacing the story to allow for the establishment of the premise, engaging with the central themes and conflict of the story and coming to a concise but not telegraphed conclusion. Runaway is a solid piece of drama and sympathetic morality tale. A powerful short film.
Studio: Story Culture | Year: 2015 | Genre: Drama | Duration: 10 Mins | Suitability: Mature
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