Joshua Nelson’s short film, I Had No Choice, explores the extreme decisions people make when pushed to their emotional extremes. The film opens with Julia (Katie Raulerson) questioning just how far Michael (Jeff Clark Jr.) will go if he truly loves her. She has now secured Michael’s complete devotion.
Cut to siblings Alex (Ziad Alezabi), Mallory (Sheila Gonzalez), and Jennifer (Leesa Babilino) walking in on their mothers Elyse (Debra Holtzman) and Meredith (Jenn Nobile), held at gunpoint by Michael under the direction of Julia. She explains to everyone that Meredith scammed Julia’s mother into a Ponzi scheme that Meredith ran. When all of Juila’s family funds were stolen, her mother took her life. Now Julia wants her money back… Julia wants revenge. To cause the maximum amount of emotional pain, the children must choose which mother Alex will kill, which comes as a surprise to him.
“To cause the maximum amount of emotional pain, the children must choose which mother Alex will kill…”
What makes I Had No Choice gripping is, ironically, the choices each character must make and how extreme pressure forces you to make the most radical choices. It was the choice of love that made Alex do Julia’s bidding. Also under scrutiny are the teens’ final choices regarding which mother should die while considering the actions of one of them.
Though Nelson’s film is all about the questions it poses, the short does have its weaknesses. The story relies heavily on the dialogue in the script, and I found the actions needed the same amount of care. The action feels more like a staged drama and less like an authentic encounter. When life and death are on the line, you’d expect the emotions to be much more heightened than it was. As frantic as the situation is, the actor remained calm and collected for the most part. By finding authenticity and ratcheting up the emotions in the characters, it raises the stakes and consequences for the choices that need to be made.
I Had No Choice poses some intriguing questions, but what do the answers say about one’s character or morals?
"…poses some intriguing questions, but what do the answers say about one's character or morals?"