Bold new British filmmaker, Harry Richards, tackles two wildly diverse shorts that may feel like night and day in tone but still contain a unique sense of style that identifies one director.
“Still Life” takes an existential look on the horrors of WWII which probably has never seemed more apropos to an American audience than now, considering the current state of the worldly affairs. But this haunting tale of salvation and liberation doesn’t dwell on the politics of war; instead it deals with the weight of real human loss and the guilt for those who survived.
A quietly morose photographer and conscientious objector Oliver (Simon Lys) may hate war but is still morbidly attracted to death. Somehow he ends up being hired to take pictures of various crime scenes. At one site he photographs a beautiful young woman who was shot in the head. After the body is removed, he snaps another one of the bloodstained wall only to have the corpse’s profile outlined along the wall, creating a stunningly gruesome portrait to an end of a life.
He sells the picture at an auction and is called to visit the winning bidder (Peter Eyre). The man’s gloomy house is filled with haunting paintings proving an affinity with Oliver’s darker side of the arts. This newfound relationship will cement a certain looming epiphany to the photographer, one that he hasn’t yet been ready to face.
“Still Life” offers an incredible thirty minutes of atmospheric intensity, building up to a dark, quietly unsettled climax. The art direction is superb as is the acting and the beautifully poignant music. Harry Richards may only be in his mid-twenties, but his grasp of the human condition is well beyond that. “Still Life” is a haunting drama told with memorable images will leave the viewer breathless and impressed.