Jamesy and Malachy are over the moon when their soft-hearted Dad presents them with two baby chicks to care for, but the two boys are in for a shock when their parents announce that big changes are coming to the family.
Parvaneh is a young Afghan immigrant who recently arrived at a transit centre for asylum seekers in the Swiss Alps. The only things she has got to know yet are the rural area surrounding the centre and the centre itself.
Heather volunteers as a crisis center hot-line operator. She receives a telephone call from a tearful Stan, who is reluctant to divulge the nature of his problem. All she can initially get out of him is that he is despondent and remorseful about an event that happened two years ago, which is now making it difficult for him to continue. The call takes on some urgency for her when she learns that he has taken some prescription anti-depressants. While she tries to convince him to let her call an ambulance for him, all he really seems to want is someone - her - to figuratively hold his hand while he dies. Without any other support staff around, Heather has to use whatever clues she can glean from their conversation to provide Stan the help she wants to get to him before he dies.Written by
A new kind of companionship we are seeing flourish
The Phone Call concerns Heather (Emily Hawkins), a shy, reclusive woman who works as a dispatcher for a crisis hotline. One day, she picks up the phone to hear an elderly man sobbing profusely on the other end. Being the professional that she is, she slowly talks to him and gets him to reveal his current situation. The man states he is "Stanley" (voiced by Jim Broadbent), a man who lost his wife Joan a few years ago and has taken a handful of antidepressants in order to cope with the mental pain. He doesn't want Heather to call an ambulance; he has made up his mind about ending his life and is content with his decision. He just wants companionship before he fades away.
This is a somber short film that sneaks up on you with the way Stanley's undying love for his wife comes through, as he tells Heather stories and details about his wife, along with being so content about his extreme decision. Hawkins plays her character wonderfully, exuding shyness and fright, despite keeping her professionalism throughout the entire ordeal, in a profoundly affecting manner. Broadbent, though he is no more than a voice throughout the short, also provides one with spine-tingling urgency, as his voice captivates, giving off each emotion and vocal-quiver with a great deal of sincerity and believability. Directed Mat Kirkby's camera shoots all the right things, in addition, from close-ups on Heather's small, reserved movements or her notes on Stanley, filling the environment with simultaneously unsettling and tranquil vibes.
The Phone Call instantly reminds me of Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1, a short documentary which, like The Phone Call, won an Oscar for its respective category. That film showed the daily routines of several dispatchers at a crisis hotline, helping numerous souls, in this case, veterans, who were on the teetering edge of suicide and either needed companionship or some sort of guidance. Judging by these two beautifully-made shorts, the relationship dispatchers form with their callers through the means of a telephone is one that we will likely see develop and grow overtime, and if such an idea is carried out with the kind of heartbreaking realism and brutal honesty these two shorts have depicted, I'm all for it.
Starring: Emily Hawkins and Jim Broadbent. Directed by: Mat Kirkby.
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