After the search for the downed plane carrying his wife and two other scientists is called off, Bradley (Aaron Massey) heads off into the wilderness to succeed where the search parties have failed. After 143 days searching alone in the woods, Bradley finally finds a clue when he discovers his wife’s backpack in a tree. Within the backpack is a journal, and as he reads Liliana’s found journal, he remembers the various moments and events she wrote about in it, leading up to the doomed plane trip.
Liliana is an intense emotional trip through one man’s inability to let go. Despite the cruel environment only getting harsher, Bradley stumbles ever-forward to make good on his promise to join his wife (he was unable to fly out with her as originally planned). Coughing blood and eventually experiencing his own Aron Ralston-esque moment, Bradley never wavers in his search.
The cinematography in the film is truly a sight to behold, as everything has a professional polish to it that only elevates the epic wilderness environment in which the film is set. Let’s face it, for the most part Nature tends to look pretty good when filmed by someone who knows what they’re doing, and has the equipment to make good on their skill, and this film is no exception. The film visually conveys that impartiality found in the rigors of the wilderness; the woods will be what they will be, whether that helps or hinders, is of no matter to Nature.
Aaron Massey, pulling triple threat duty as co-director, writer and lead actor, does an incredible job portraying Bradley. Whether you think his decision to continue searching despite every setback is smart or not doesn’t change the fact that his performance shows that, for Bradley, there is no other way; there never really was much of a decision to be made. By the time the ending rolls around, it tragically fits.
My only criticism is the length of the short film. At forty-one minutes, it’s another case of running time “no man’s land”; too short for a feature, too long for a short. Still, the rhythm that the film moves to, and the vibe that it embodies, works so well that you don’t really notice the running time as a shortcoming unless you’re thinking of it in practical and conventional terms (such as, the challenges of getting the film programmed at a festival, or finding distribution for it elsewhere; concerns that may be moot since the film can be seen online anyway). Liliana works wonderfully as it is, however, and is a more than capable cinematic journey.
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