When an aspiring author inflicts herself into the life of her would-be subject, the consequences soon become uncontrollable.
Director Gideon Blackman’s Memorial is a short film about ennui and overzealousness—an odd combination, to say the least. The tale takes place in a small town in the UK and concerns three adolescents: Alexandra, an aspiring writer, her easy-going friend Dave and Jennifer, a newcomer to the area. When Dave alerts Alexandra to Jennifer’s loner qualities and mysterious comings and goings, Alexandra becomes obsessed with the notion of writing a story about Jennifer’s life. To make this happen, Alexandra attempts to befriend the girl by asking her the most personal of questions. When Jennifer shows no interest in Alexandra’s friendship, Alexandra’s interrogations persist, intensify and destroy any chances of a happily-ever-after ending.
First and foremost, I have to say that I love the subtle yet provocative story idea in Memorial, written by screenwriter Carlo Saccenti. It’s very interesting the way each scene seamlessly builds upon itself so that we almost see nothing happening until everything crashes down upon us. Then all that we are left with are the questions of how and why.
But does Saccenti’s very strong screenplay carry Memorial to the greatness it deserves? Not necessarily, at least in my opinion. Unfortunately, the overall acting feels both Dragnet-esque and lethargic— with a presentation that’s as moralistically contrived as those religiously-bent afterschool television specials of my childhood. These in turn create an unpleasant tempo, which makes Memorial’s 14-minute duration feel far longer.
In spite of the film’s cons, there are definite pros that salvage viewer-interest. These are Saccenti’s aforementioned fully-loaded screenplay, and the fact that beneath the horror that unfolds lies some comic relief, beautifully expressed by actor Taryn Kay, who portrays Alexandra’s mother.
I also appreciate cinematographer Joseph Loughrell’s fluid camera moves, and one particular scene where Alexandra and Jennifer sit on a Whirly Bird, as we watch the world spinning eerily behind them.
It should also be added that Gideon Blackman is a sensitive filmmaker who’s not afraid to experiment, and these very indie-attributes can only lead to great things to come.
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