Fon Davis, who has worked on dozens of blockers, including the Star Wars franchise, as a visual effects artist, has a remarkably keen eye as a director. As John and Sara get closer to each other, the wordless transitions from day to day, signaled by the curfew alarm, feel organic. In only his second short film, the director maintains absolute control of the tone. When the harsh realities of the world the couple live in catch up to them, it does not counteract the romantic atmosphere built over the first half of the film. While it is devastating when John needs to ship out, it is so heartbreaking precisely because it does tie into all that came before perfectly.
Of course, this is also due to Joel Hodge’s gorgeous cinematography. Every frame is immaculate and beautiful. The costumes, by Lauren Matesic, are fantastic. Sara’s magenta headband being a lovely dash of color to the hazy browns and grays of the rest of the world. Eliot Sirota’s art and production design are sublimely marvelous. The torn signs and rundown buildings are all caked in dust (we see Harry clean his TV screen quite often). The overall presentation of At The End Of The World is visually-arresting and breathtaking. Also, I’d be remiss not to shout out Edwin Wendler’s sumptuous grand score, which is fantastic throughout.
“…an artistic triumph on all levels, an absolute masterpiece.”
As the lovestruck John, Victor Manso is fantastic. His nervousness to even begin talking to Sara is felt before the actor even utters a word. His mannerisms and facial expressions convey everything the audience needs to know. He instantly wins them over, and the viewer will be on his side right away. It helps that he and A. Leslie Kies share stunning chemistry. Kies imbues Sara with a sweet, lively nature that juxtaposes against the horrific world in which she resides. It is no wonder why John would fall so hard and swiftly for her.
Eric Hailey is also quite good as Harry, the video steward. When explaining that his sister (I believe) just got shipped out and how he knows he’ll never see her again, it is poignant. The entire supporting cast, no matter how small the role, nails their parts perfectly.
At The End Of The World packs more of an emotional wallop than films that are ten times as long. Fon Davis has directed a magnum opus with this monumental short. The lead actors are brilliant and sheer remarkable chemistry. The production design is awe-inspiring, and the cinematography is striking. Please seek out this gem as soon as possible.