There are three categories at the Academy Awards for short films. One is Best Live Action Short. The others are Best Animated Short and Best Documentary Short Subject. Because short films don't play in most multiplexes, except ones by Disney and Pixar, the only places you can see short films is at a film festival. Therefore, the Academy has designated a selection of festivals as venues for finding nominees in the short film categories. The Rhode Island International Film Festival is one such venue. I attended that venue, which ran this year from August 4th to the 9th. One short film I saw, which had its world premiere, was this one about a woman and her son and one of them having to say goodbye.
Director Jeff Tan has been a camera operator on various reality shows for about a decade. His credits include The Bachelor and Jersey Shore. This little narrative is Tan's directorial debut. One of the first techniques that Tan utilizes is the racking focus. The two and only characters in this film are in frame. One is blurred, while the other is in sharp view. It then reverses, so that the previously blurred character is now in sharp view. It is perhaps a precursor for the change in perspective the film takes at a later point.
Oscar-winner Melissa Leo (The Fighter and Frozen River) stars as Mary. Gabriel Furman co-stars as her son Jay. Mary is in a hospital seeming very ill and Jay is sitting bedside, watching over her. Mary is clearly upset. She's tearful and perhaps a little bitter. Jay is cool and calm. He seems as if he's trying to be reassuring but feels strangely detached or perhaps resigned to the reality of the situation more than his mom.
Furman, aside from being the co-star, is also the writer of this film. Furman is an up-and-coming actor who has been appearing in several dramas. His most recent appearance was in Daredevil on Netflix where he also played a character facing a life-or-death situation but with far more fear. Here, Furman is less over-the-top. He's more subtle and nuanced.
Leo's performance is of course the hanger on which everything is held. From bitterness to levity to heartbreak, she is the absolute centerpiece.
Four Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but for mature audiences.
Running Time: 7 minutes.
For more information, go to http://mothersdaythefilm.com/