I cried so much I gave my dogs a serious case of the worries. I cried so much I had to go get treatment for dehydration. I cried so much I think I want to punch writer/director Cristhian Andrews in the mouth. His perfectly heartbreaking short film Before We Lose should be studied in film classes as a perfect example of structure, pacing, and visual storytelling.
I am again going to suggest you just watch the short. Just go watch it. To have the story unfold without knowing what’s going to happen beforehand is the absolute best way to see it. And at 14 minutes it isn’t that much of a time commitment. But, in those 14 minutes Before We Lose accomplishes more dramatically than most of the melodramatic Oscar contenders of the past few years.
For thems of you, what stuck around the story goes like this. You have a mom and a very young son in Turkey. It is clear she is sick, but she goes about her daily routine with her son. She plays with him. She cooks with him, she does everything she can to make him feel loved and cared for. About the 7 minute mark, it is clear that she isn’t only sick, but that she is VERY sick. You watch her struggle with her condition as she continues to try and hide it from her son. In the background, we get news reports of her government’s inability to handle the sheer amount of cases that are appearing every day. New cases surface every day of cancer caused by the Chernobyl incident.
“…It is clear she is sick, but she goes about her daily routine with her son…”
Avoiding the cliché pitfalls of maudlin melodrama, Before We Lose unfolds the drama slowly, focusing on small moments of joy and love. There are no over-the-top declarations of love, no inspiring speeches about the strength of the human spirit. There is just showing love through the everyday acts of care and nurturing. There is just showing strength by first putting on a brave face and then by making plans for the inevitable.
There is social commentary, but Mr. Andrews is subtle with it. Instead of hitting you over the head with how the Turkish government hid the enormity of the effects of Chernobyl on the Turkish population, he focuses on this one story. He chooses to make it a personal one, to show the hopelessness of one mother having to say goodbye to her son…and there I go again. Here come the waterworks. Give me a minute.
But what would a writer/director be without a cast? Ener Bozoglu handles the role of the mother with a restrained strength. She gives us a subtle performance that feels like a documentary subject because of its authenticity. And Saddet Yuce as the son is so heartbreaking in his role; I can only imagine the poor child will need some therapy down the line because of this short.
Before We Lose is a beautiful, heartbreaking, perfect short. If you are lucky enough to see it, I suggest you jump at the chance. As for me, I now have to go watch everything Mr. Andrews has ever done, and but first I will need a saline drip to recover from all this crying.
Before We Lose (2019) Directed by Cristhian Andrews. Written by Cristhian Andrews. Starring Ener Bozoglu, Saddet Yuce.
10 out of 10