Forever Manchester begins on May 22, 2017, near the end of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. James (Greg Patmore) and Lisa (Jules Horsfield) Barnes are at home confirming that their daughter’s friend is bringing Abi (Madeline Hudson) home. They then begin to settle in for the night, when James turns on the news. This is how he learns that a suicide bomber killed a total of 23 people and injured countless more as the crowds were leaving the arena.
The frantic parents call Abi’s cell, but she does not answer. Unsure of what else to do, Lisa thinks they should drive to Manchester to find their offspring. James is against this citing that the whole area would be blocked off and they’d be stuck in a traffic jam for no reason. As the night wears on the Barnes’ get more and more desperate and impatient.
“…he learns that a suicide bomber killed a total of 23 people and injured countless more…”
This affecting, tense 12-minute short directed by Iain Cash, and written by David Stokes and Cash, is dedicated to those that were affected by the real-life tragic bombing. While this family is fictitious, it lovingly and honestly deals with the pain of that night. Minus a voice on the phone, the entirety of Forever Manchester’s cast Patmore and Horsfield. Luckily, they are fantastic. The two share excellent chemistry, and when crap hits the fan, they never play it too broad. Their nervousness, anguish, and fears are grounded and come across realistically.
Despite taking place entirely in two, maybe three, rooms, Forever Manchester never becomes stale to look at. In part, this is due to the moody lighting and director of photography Tim Follin’s inventive camera angles. It is also because of the expert editing. The movie jumps through time but is never hard to follow and only becomes more engrossing as its brief runtime moves by.
Forever Manchester is an excellent dramatization of a tragic real-life event. The screenplay ably sets up the premise and its character in just a few lines of dialogue. The two main actors are terrific, and the technical prowess on display is quite impressive.