East End Film Festival Reviews

In Sickness – East End Film Festival Review

I’m truly envious of short filmmakers; I’ve always struggled to contain a story to such a short amount of time and pull it off successfully. As soon as I think of a character, I need them to have entire backstories and long character arcs, and every situation needs to be fleshed out and focus. Ultimately, the subject matter needs to suit the short running time, and that’s where an impressive film like In Sickness can falter.

In Sickness is a 15 minute tale of a young couple (Sian Altman, who also co-wrote the film, and Karl Reay) at various stages in their life, exploring the highs and lows of their relationship. The title is genius; it’s been a very long time since I’ve seen a film so accurately summed up. It’s easy to write off a title but the main theme of this film is a very deep and complex that’s hard to sum up in a number of paragraphs, yet here it’s encapsulated in just two iconic words. On a technical level, this film can’t be faulted. Everything from it’s cinematography to it’s sound design is pretty much perfect, making the film very atmospheric and moving at the most important times. It has a great understanding of when silence is perfect, and the effect even the most trivial of noises can have, not to mention it’s impact on the audience. The film opens with Jim frantically banging on the bathroom door; straight off the bat, it plunges you into shock, with no real idea of what’s going on but an absolute certainty that you’re desperate to find out.

The impact of moments like that are astounding given the short run time, but overall, the 15 minute length is what damages it a little. There’s a lot of passion in this film; real human emotions, excellent performances perfectly capturing the trials and tribulations these characters face, a deep exploration of complicated themes and a great use of juxtaposition, but having it this short just doesn’t feel right. Of course, it’s a tall order to expect a newcomer like Thomas Edwards to bash out a full feature film on a such a complex subject on only his second film, but the 15 minutes of jumping abruptly feels a tad disjointed. We’re introduced to this couple’s issues before the couple themselves, and it feels like there’s just not enough time to let all of this breathe. On the one hand, it does create a very effective sense of instability which may have even been the intention, but it just doesn’t benefit from it’s format.

Make no mistake though, there’s nothing unimpressive about In Sickness; it may feel a little too short, but there is a lot of passion and care put into this film, and that is evident from it’s very impactful title alone, before you even get into the amazing performances, great script, gorgeous cinematography, excellent sound design and just an all around accomplishment on nearly every aspect of it. Make sure you check it out at the East End Film Festival this year.

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