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Smallfilm (2007)

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Credited cast:
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Life, love, madness, death. Nothing is black and white.


Short | Drama



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Release Date:

12 October 2007 (Canada)  »

Box Office


CAD 100,000 (estimated)

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Overly sentimental, yet frightfully creepy.
8 June 2008 | by (london, england) – See all my reviews

A teacher of mine, who is aware of my affinity for short films, gave me a DVD of nine shorts from the Yukon. Of the nine, one was entitled "Smallfilm".

The film begins with a hand groping a pillow, and the sound of sobbing. The film then abruptly cuts to an old man waking up in the middle of the night, and looking through some old film reels. It soon becomes apparent that the man is suffering from some neurological disability, for which he is taking medication.

He's managed to wake his equally elderly wife, who comes to investigate what he's up to. The ensuing conversation reveals that both characters have their ailments, both physical, and mental. What I believe the filmmaker was trying to portray was frailty, and sadness. However, the grim lighting, the claustrophobic camera angles, and the hostility of the husband make for an eerily creepy feel.

The husband is emotionally absent, often ignoring his wife, and becomes increasingly obsessive over his old home movies. Tension boils until he forcefully pushes her away. The film cuts between past and present, film and reality, but does so abruptly and confusingly.

After this, the wife shows to be in considerable pain, and begs her husband to end her life. He then decides to perform euthanasia on her by smothering her with a pillow. The image is devastating; who wants to see an old woman get suffocated to death? Rather than feeling sympathetic, it was comparable to watching Anton Chigurh strangling the police officer to death in "No Country for Old Men". Any sympathy, or sentimentality the audience may have had is lost in this scene.

The next shot has the old man crying with his head on a pillow. It is revealed that this whole thing has been a delusion the old man has been having; he's in some sort of mental asylum. The last thing this film needed was a Twilight Zone/M. Night Shyamalan plot twist. What this movie suffers from is an identity crisis. It doesn't know what it wants to be, and substitutes style for substance. The cinematography, and the lighting are both good quality, but they belong in a different film.

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