Some strong aspects, but the content is too direct, and the soapy daytime TV music highlights this rather than helping
This is an interesting short film in that it shows us a bully but from the inside – so their life and experience, rather than just their impact. In particular with Christian, we see his chaotic home life being a source of a lot of stress, pain, and frustration – all of which he brings back into school life with him. The narrative is pretty much not too more complex than this, which is fine as it is a short film with limited time to expand and deliver.
To start with what works here; the film is realistic about what it can do with the time available, so the narrative is very contained and it doesn't try to do too much in terms of events. Coy Stewart is very good, and he is really the strongest part of the film, and carries a lot of the emotional weight – convincing both as a confident young man faking his way in the day, as well as a hurt boy in the home scenes. Technically the film is also well made, with good camera-work, shot framing, and cinematography. The problem is the tone of the film. While it doesn't try to do too much, it does cram a lot in, and we get this broken down a bit too obviously and on-the-nose as a result. The film doesn't rush this perhaps, but it is very direct in saying that 1+1=2 in terms of its character and narrative. Since the point is a worthy one, I did go along with it, but what was an additional burden for it was the choice of music.
The soundtrack throughout is very "televisual"; since we are now in the Golden Age and that word probably carries less of a derogatory meaning, let me clarify that I mean Hallmark Channel during the daytime televisual, not HBO Sunday night televisual. At any key scene the music plays to tell us of the pain and hurt of Christian, and it really doesn't need it – particularly with Coy Stewart in the lead role telling us a lot with his performance. It does rather detract from the film as a whole, highlighting the directness and obviousness of the delivery and narrative – which is a shame because there were a couple of very strong aspects to this that deserved better.
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