PALM SPRINGS SHORTFEST REVIEW! At the very bottom of this page, you’ll find the poster for Blocks. It is located in the middle of the credits bed and the final pull quote. Take a moment to look at the poster, then scroll back up here.
Blocks follows loving mom and wife, Ashleigh (Claire Coffee). While she clearly cares greatly for her husband, Eric (Mark Webber) and kids, Wren (Phoebe Sinclair) and Gus (George Sinclair), she feels overwhelmed at all the work and clean-up involved. One day, she feels sick and vomits. But she finds that she is not throwing up food, or even water, instead she is upchucking toy building blocks (think Lego). This concerns her, but after confiding in friends and looking into it, she cannot find an explanation as to why this is happening.
Her kids are excited that new blocks are appearing, but their odd smell puts the youngsters off from playing with them. Eric tries to be understanding and patient but cannot only do so much. Why is Ashleigh vomiting blocks? Is she able to find a way to stop it?
I don’t know about you, but based on that eye-catching poster and that plot synopsis, I was expecting writer-director Bridget Moloney’s short film to be a comedy. So, imagine my surprise when Blocks turns out to be a rather sobering drama about a lady that needs to rediscover herself by having a space that is just hers.
“…she feels overwhelmed…feels sick and vomits…toy building blocks…”
Happily, the 11-minute drama hits the floor running and works wonderfully. Coffee is excellent as Ashleigh. When she’s at a gathering of some kind, everyone around her is living it up and laughing. She feels out of sorts and cannot relate to anyone there. Coffee conveys all this just by how she’s sitting in the chair and the slow turn of her head as she surveys everyone else there. Her chemistry with Webber and her on-screen children is quite good.
Phoebe Sinclair and George Sinclair are adorable little moppets with energy and charm to spare. Mark Webber is warm and caring as Eric. When Wren asks if she can watch TV because “daddy said to ask you,” and Eric exclaims that is not what he said, it is both a nice moment of levity as well as a sweet picture of how he knows his wife needs a break.
The real power of Blocks comes from its ending. Obviously, I am not going to spoil anything, but it works and leaves the viewer with an optimistic view of where Ashliegh’s life will lead her. The camerawork, by Jake Hossfeld, subtly pulls the audience into this seemingly ordinary world. Thus, when the fantastical element takes hold, it is only slightly jarring. In the same way, it is jarring to the protagonist.
Blocks works and works well. The acting is excellent, the directing is assured, and the movie’s message will resonate with everyone. At just over 10-minutes long, there is no reason not to watch it.
"…leaves the viewer with an optimistic view of where Ashliegh’s life will lead..."