Powerful imagery, rich performances, gorgeous camera-work and lighting, cracking dialogue sounds like a bit Hollywood blockbuster, doesn't it? Well, 'A Series of Small Things' has absolutely nothing to do with mainstream Hollywood kitch and everything to do with intimate, well-crafted independent film-making at its most heart-felt. Now, you wouldn't think a short film of around 23 minutes would have those attributes but 'A Series of Small Things' has them all.
Actor/Director Phil Donlon's project has a message that is both heart-wrenching and uncomfortable to watch and it is intended to be so. The film is at once both brutal and beautiful violence and calm battle it out in an uncompromising vision that instead of leading the viewer into chaos, leads to understanding, and, ultimately, redemption and peace. The final shot, incidentally, is arrestingly beautiful.
Larry Wilson's spartan but right-on-the-nail dialogue complements excellent performances from an inspired cast Donlon's nightmare-ridden artist is balanced perfectly by the understanding and heart of Jenn Pae's bereaved sister of a missing brother. Doug Jones' mysterious yet angelic Homeless Man, his shabby and hungry-looking exterior hiding an all-knowing, humorous and multi-faceted persona, is a joy the glue that binds the 'small things' together to bring about the dénouement. This is just lovely stuff.
If I have one niggle, it's a small one, and is really intended as a comment rather than a concern. I wanted more MUCH more. There is a lot of storyline that I wanted to explore, to seek, and if the film had been extended to 30 minutes or longer, it would have been even more fulfilling. There was so much left unsaid, and it is a tribute to the film makers that they packed in such a lot in such a short time. And, it has to be said, that if a film leaves the viewer wanting more then it has done its job.
'A Series of Small Things' is a rare thing in film-making it is a film with soul.
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