There’s a big pond beneath the cellar of Ellie’s (Ellie Gattine) home. Various kinds of fish, and other aquatic creatures, swim into the 10-year-old’s house via the pipes. Her mother (Rachel Povse) spends most of her day taking care of the kids and skinning fish. Ellie bides her time by entertaining her baby brother (Greggory Frahm) and spending time with her friends. Funnily enough, they hangout by a larger, proper pond, you know, one that is outside.
Pond has a simple setup and premise. The Tyler Macri directed short quietly observes its young lead as she goes about her day. From eating fish stew to doing the grocery shopping, the camera just watches her exist in this seemingly surreal predicament. Mind you that is not a complaint, just a note of the style of the dramatic tale.
And it works. While Pond is hardly earth-shattering, it is an engaging tale with a sweet ending. Perhaps most importantly to the film’s success is its sound design. The drips of leaky pipes and the splash of fish into the bathtub are ever-present, even when people are talking. It adds to the sense of realism for the somewhat surreal situation Ellie lives with every day.
“There’s a big pond beneath the cellar…fish, and other aquatic creatures, swim into the 10-year-old’s house via the pipes.”
Gattine is excellent as the slightly serious but still fun girl. Waking up one night, Ellie wants to see her mother. She calls out but no answer, so she explores the often locked bathroom. Seeing her mom has fallen asleep in the tub, she mulls over the hanging fish, the pictures, and everything else. Her natural curiosity comes through in her body language.
Macri’s observant tone does mean that there is nothing in the way of action or forward momentum. You are just watching a day in the life of this young girl. I think it works, as its style turns the movie into an elegant ode to life still moving on, and looking on the bright side, no matter your situation. But, some might find it a bit boring, and while I disagree, I can understand where such people would be (hypothetically) coming from.
Pond is solidly directed and well-acted. It finds a graceful, quiet, gentleness in its observant style and unforced, naturalistic story structure. If you have 15-minutes, this movie will be a pleasant diversion of your daily routine.
"…an elegant ode to life still moving on, and looking on the bright side..."