S.A.M – Review. By Heidi Sharpley.
“I have a crush on him,” Sam played by George Webster, unabashedly proclaims to his friends in the park at the very start of this short film. If you don’t listen carefully, it just slips on by. Unheard and unacknowledged by his friends, they are too busy taking the piss out of the lone kid on the swings, also named Sam and played by Sam Retford.
Yet, this is perhaps the most powerful line of S.A.M and the whole point it was made. You see, our first Sam has Down’s Syndrome and it seems his friends and perhaps a lot of the audience, don’t expect him to have a romantic or sexual aspect to his life.
During the rest of this short film we are privileged to be part of the intimate interactions of the two Sams as they pass time on the swings developing a mutually respectful relationship. Acted beautifully by Webster and Retford, the themes of love, self acceptance, dysfunctional families, all unpacked so movingly as the boys sway back and forth.
Retford plays the teenage angst faultlessly. Webster delivers his Sam’s acceptance of his natural instincts with ease. Inclusion and diversity come at us from different perspectives. There is a beautiful moment when Sam played by Webster turns around in his swing to face the same way as Retford’s Sam. The symbolic act of unity and acceptance, not lost on me.
The writing and directing team Eyre & Ely have given a voice, face and identity to part of the LGBTIQA+ community with learning disabilities who more often than not move through the broader community with an unacknowledged sexual identity. Perhaps even viewed as asexual.
More than the message, this story is so beautifully and realistically told. It left me wanting more. I’d love to see this short film developed into a full length feature but only under the care and nurturing of the custodians of Eyre and Ely whose casting, script and direction were faultless.
And finally, there’s nothing I love more than a love story with a great sound track. Ali Ingram’s, songs Tornado and Your’s Alone are perfectly placed in this movie.
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