Connor Paterson’s short film, Emily, is very short, at under two minutes long, and it concerns a man, John Bairstow (Paul Casar), brought in for questioning after a disastrous train wreck. We’re given snippets of information, such that the man has a daughter, and we get clues that might explain whether he was involved with the wreck and why, but then it’s over.
And in that way, the film, shorter than the average film trailer, leaves a lot to be desired as far as narrative goes. I’m usually one to preach that short films should be short, but in this case I wouldn’t have minded a bit more to go on. Because, as is, it’s over before I have enough information to actually care about what it is trying to say, if anything.
That said, as a showpiece for editing skills, sound design and visual effects work, the short absolutely shines; it more than succeeds as a technical calling card, if it achieves nothing else. As perhaps a trailer for a larger film fleshing out the full tale that led to Bairstow’s involvement with the train wreck, also interesting. As a standalone short film, it presents a scenario, but not much of a story. Reading the synopsis on the film’s website after the fact, there’s a lot of information and context that the filmmaker was using to craft his tale that we as an audience aren’t given at all.
Still, points are to be given for getting as much as it does into the film in such a short span. Even if all it does is paint a scenario, it does so with intense power. In contrast, it makes other short films seem meandering at even four minutes. At the same time, however, there’s something to be said for giving the audience more info to chew on, and I personally could’ve used a bit more narrative.
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