Just before we have a moment to breathe, another horrific event rears its ugly head. The event I’m referring to is mass shootings, which is the subject of Robbie Bryan and Stephen Dexter’s short film, American Morning. Mass shootings, particularly school shootings, is an uncomfortable subject. But, then again, it should never be comfortable.
Stephen Dexter plays elementary music teacher Connor Mathis. Two years ago, Connor’s school was involved in a mass shooting incident. Today, Connor is still unable to shake the memory of a choice he had to make that cost the life of one of his students.
Since the incident, Connor left the teaching profession and moved in with his father (Richard Schiff). Connor has been stewing in his anger and depression and is about to take justice into his own hands and a single life-altering act of vengeance.
“Connor has been stewing in his anger and depression and is about to take justice into his own hands…”
I think we can all feel the frustration from American Morning. While both sides of the gun control debate are entrenched in their position, common ground cannot be made and the problem remains unsolved. Filmmakers Bryan and Dexter effectively stir up the right emotions in the classroom of scared children or a heartfelt chat between Connor and his father. While the school scenes are powerful and involve the idea of endangering children, it never comes off as exploitative.
What I appreciate about the conversation between father and son is the importance of friends and family being present for anyone who has experienced trauma of any kind. It’s these single moments that can make a difference. It’s well-written and poignant.
If anything, American Morning forces us to keep in mind the hot-button issue of gun violence and mental health.
"…the importance of friends and family being present for anyone who has experienced trauma..."