This short film follows a band of young teens in England, searching for ways to get by and ways to kill time, wandering the countryside. One day, group member Trevor (Billy Ward) is kicked out of a store, presumably after an attempted theft. As Trevor returns to the group empty-handed, an older and sickly man (portrayed by Hamilton Wilson, named Old Misery in credits) stops by and offers some food to the gang.
After Old Misery leaves, it is discovered that the youngest member of the group, Spence (Archie Deeks) stole his wallet. Feeling guilt over victimizing an older person, Trevor returns the wallet to him at his home and sits with him for a cup of tea. Later that evening, Trevor and company return to the home, their intentions unclear. Once there, they discover things about Old Misery and themselves.
Director/writer/editor Otis Tree does a solid job of giving us a glimpse into a “day in the life” of these people. There are a lot of scenes consisting of the group talking and kidding around with each other as they get through the day. There is also depth to these characters however. There are various moments in the film when one member is off by themselves, and it is plain to see on their faces that there is an undercurrent of sadness about where life and time has currently placed them.
The conversation between Old Misery and Trevor over tea is filled with meditations on pain and loss. This layered character depth is accomplished in no small part through great subtle acting from the entire cast, where the emotional subtext is portrayed only through facial expressions and line deliveries. The handheld cinematography by James Gallagher allows these notions to be presented clearly visually. In addition, it gives the audience the sense that they themselves are a part of this group as the camera tracks the group from location to location or studies the characters in their quiet moments as a silent observer would do.
There are areas in which the film runs into the confines of the short film format. While Tree does a good job of utilizing voice-over and layered dialogue to introduce themes such as the inevitability of the passing of time, how suffering and pain can be cyclical and affect generations, and that actions have consequences, the 13 minute runtime restricts the extent to which any of these ideas can become fully realized.
If one is looking for a film that features naturalistic performances, and an ability to get the audience thinking without providing obvious or easy answers, check out this film if given the chance.
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