For all you aspiring film makers out there, take ‘Lifeline’ as a lesson. ‘Lifeline’ is a short film that just about hits the 10-minute mark, and it has been cited as one of the best short films of 2016. And it’s easy to see why; on the surface it looks like we are simply getting a simple short film with a nice short yet vague story to tell. But really look at ‘Lifeline’ and you will find something rather remarkable about it.
The basic story in ‘Lifeline’ is a dystopian setting where a desperate mother must help her dying son, give him another lifeline as it were. This requires her to go to a mysterious, derelict building where through even more mysterious and sinister means this mother must do the unthinkable to get the lifeline her son so desperately needs. What follows later isn’t so much story based or character focused (although it does place some focus on these) and comes off as more world building. But the thing is, if you have a good world with interesting rules and houses interesting people then you could very easily get away with a focus on world building. And that’s definitely where ‘Lifeline’ has an advantage.
What impressed me most with this film was the world that was set up. It was very different to the world that we live in now, yet I can also see echoes of the situations the film presents throughout our world too. While never explored, there is the hinting of a rift between class and political views. But the film, for the best, chooses to focus completely on the current predicament with the mother and so any political commentary is mostly kept as just hints and whispers. Instead the focus is on the themes of the film, which are predominately the themes of motherhood, how far we’ll go for love and the power of selflessness. These are powerful messages and are told in a very powerful way, especially with the ending of the film. It also shows that these will not change even when the world is at its worse; that even when the human race is on the brink of social collapse a mother will still love her child.
This is very much helped by the acting; which is great all around. Rebecca Manley’s lead character is so compelling and so human that she help ground the entire story around her. From minute one her story is clear, you identify with her struggles and you are wishing for her to come out on top in the end. There is no wasted dialogue, there isn’t any over-acting or Oscar baiting, it’s all pure and simple and very human. Another performer in the film who I must mention is Matilda Freeman. This child, who can’t be more than 12 years old, is a good actress and a phenomenal child actress. Things happen in this film that nobody would wish for a child to see, never mind do. The film makes her participation no less shocking but all the more impressive with how well she plays her part.
But the real star of the show is the director, Sam Jones. It is clear that he takes inspiration from the likes of Danny Boyle and Gore Verbinski; with a keen eye for stylish storytelling and film making to grant what films they direct more of an identity than most. Everything, from sets to lighting looks both familiar while strange and pure while eroded. It’s a style of contrasts, something that suits the themes perfectly. What makes Jones’ work more impressive though is his age. He wrote this script while studying his A-Levels. He got it pitched, produced and had a team of people, who also believed in his vision to bring it to life. Films like this really do prove that you have no excuse to not make your film if you are aspiring to. If anything gets taken away from ‘Lifeline’ please have it be that.
‘Lifeline’ is a powerful and moving short film from a young man who is still learning his craft, but knows how to use his strengths already. The themes are driven home hard and well. The film making is stylish and fluid. The acting and writing truly bring this world to life. And all in a shorter time than most. Jones found his story and made it, for that there is admiration. For what he made, there is definite and well deserved praise.
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