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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The concept of the film, I felt was great. 'Reflections of a Life' is an
ingenious title for a haunting short film. Both the Father and Son's
are reflected upon throughout this film. The Son's life, seen in Black
White as an adult, is grey/ black and lifeless. It only comes to life in
the final 8mm. colour section of the happy family scenes on the beach,
before his life drastically changes.
The location reflected the emptiness in the son and suggested his feelings of isolation. The free spirit of the birds suggesting his release - freedom in the opening scene.
In a short 10-minute piece, I think it is very difficult to show the whole spectrum of emotions and still have the audience feel they are part of this boy's growing-up. Yet, I felt, this film delivered and left me moved - not just for the son, but for the father and mother too.
It was hard, when required, - for example, the scene between the father and mother in the kitchen was extremely powerful, both language and photography. Gritty and believable, I thought. It showed the father's anxiety fuelled by alcohol and then later his gentler, softer side, which displayed remorse and regret for his actions - as at when his abused wife dies in his arms - his remorse all too late, I believe.
The grainy, staccato scenes in the kitchen reflected the roughness of the violent situation. I thought that the hand-held camera was put to good use and added to the unpredictability of the scene.
The contrast between the beach and kitchen scenes, the colour and Black and White here / light and dark. The fact that the child is seen in color - all had an impact on me.
Although I am not experienced with the Technical issues involved in film making, I felt that the locations were excellent. They blended in well with the storyline, throughout. Contrast the claustrophobic kitchen scene with the feelings of freedom exhibited in the coastline / wilderness scenes.
I felt that the acting qualities were, for the most part, excellent. The actors' qualities - given their space - were balanced. Overall the acting was good, and believable - the director brought out their best qualities for this situation, I think. Children are notoriously hard to direct, however the child appeared very natural in all his scenes.
I think the 'Mother and Father' deserved special mention. The mother was very good in this part, she displayed the downtrodden wife to perfection, still managing to fight her own corner on behalf of her son - against the power of the father and the power of alcohol. This, all in spite, of her own fight against - Cancer. I questioned what she was going through at this time, and felt that in some way the film answered this in her relationship with her son. (Secrets)
The Father was a seriously difficult part to portray without going over the top. Emotionally and physically the character had to change and age. In fact he aged 20 years in 10 minutes - make-up might have been better here perhaps? - However the acting qualities still shone through and he was believable as the dying old man, who has lost all dignity, to the point where he even forces his only son to carry out his final wishes because of what has been done to the family in the past.
Psychologically, this is powerful drama in its purest form - throwing up questions about alcohol abuse, domestic violence, euthanasia / suicide, and yet contrasting this with a happy holiday segment which makes one question if life is black / grey, with minutes of color or whether color is now coming into the son's life? Is this freedom of spirit at last - like the seagull?
These things happen - in real life. Let's not forget that.
A superb portrayal.
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