Chubby: Review. By Hugues Porquier.
Chubby is a short film by Dusty Mancinelli and Madeleine Sims-Fewer. It premiered on October 2, 2019 at the Vancour International Film Festival where it was nominated for the “Best Canadian Short”.
In others festivals Chubby won “Special Mention” at the Loudoun Arts Film Festival, “Silver Dragon” at the Krakow Film Festival and “Canadian Film Fest Special Jury Award” at the Canadian Film Fes as well as numerous nominations.
In this 21-minutes film, two time lines intertwine.
In the first one we follow Jude, a 10 year old girl (played by Maya Harman) and her uncle Noah (played by Jesse LaVercombe).
During the first moments of the film, we can think we are dealing with a completely banal relationship between an uncle and his niece.
But we quickly understand that the hold that Noah is developing on Jude is terrible and inappropriate.
As the minutes go by, an unhealthy atmosphere emerges from the conversation between them. They will start a game of dare that will bring the unthinkable.
In the second time line, which takes place some time later, we are immersed in a Christmas family dinner, the meal is being prepared and we wait for Noah’s arrival.
In this part, Jude will act in a very dangerous way towards a young boy of her family. During a so-called game, she will try to suffocate him with a plastic bag. This scene, which lasts only a few seconds, seems endless and is really disturbing.
Following this attempt to suffocate, the tension rises gradually between the different members of the family.
The direction of Dusty Mancinelli and Madeleine Sims-Fewer works very well and makes the film look very realistic. Which, to be honest, is a good point for the film but a bad one for the viewer. Whether it’s during the game of dare or during the choking of the little one, the scenes are really heavy to watch and scary.
But the realistic aspect of this film is also induced by the incredible performance of Maya Harman, who despite her young age knew how to perfectly interpret such a sensitive subject. Jesse LaVercombe’s performance is also impressive, indeed, it can’t be easy to put oneself in the shoes of such a character.
This film makes us realize that danger can come from anywhere, even from an uncle, who is quite young and seems to be appreciated by the whole family. It also emphasizes the victim’s difficulty in speaking about it. And the guilt that overwhelms them when they have to put words on these horrors.
Chubby is frighteningly realistic, the film tackles a very sensitive subject in a very incisive and thoughtful way.
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