DANCES WITH FILM 2023 REVIEW! Writer-director Heidi Nyburg ‘s Five and a Half begins with a mother and a grandmother preparing 5-year-old Abbie (Lauren Jude Rosa) to spend time with her father. The dad in question, Chuck (James Hal Hardy), was recently released from prison. Then a noticeable and troubling mood sets the tone.
Abbie’s mother, Jess (Katherine Cozumel), is exceptionally nervous, while the little girl exists in her world of wonder, dressed in a red party dress with matching shoes. While waiting for her father outside, Abbie tries unsuccessfully to tie her shoes and chats with her neighbor Calvin (Chanden Jackson), a boy about her age. His mother, Alice (Ratoya Banks), watches from next door. Abbie doesn’t know her father when he arrives in his red convertible, which draws Calvin’s attention and makes his mother uncomfortable.
“Abbie doesn’t know her father when he arrives in his red convertible…”
Chuck is a little bit of a sloppy hipster in appearance, but his sense of appeal immediately connects to Abbie calling her a princess and tying her shoes. Then, Abbie’s grandmother, Maria (Valerie Gould), gives Chuck money, and they drive off on a beautiful sunny day, all seeming well. After making a call from a pay phone, the father takes his child to a place in the woods to meet someone. There Abbie meets a boy and girl hunting for worms.
Nyburg’s true-life story is infused with small but mighty details. These create a believable, lived-in world that invites viewers in throughout the brief runtime of Five and a Half. They also inform a much larger and more powerful narrative at play. When Abbie and Chuck go see The Little Princess, and she chides him for not washing his hands after using the restroom… well, you’ll just have to see what happens.
Five and a Half is very well filmed and acted based. Rosa plays Abbie without flaw, maintaining her forward but innocent character engaging the viewer, and allowing the story to present itself visually. The short is a formidable snapshot of a moment that changed one life’s direction.
Five and a Half screened at the 2023 Dances With Films.
"…a formidable snapshot of a moment that changed one life's direction."