Paul Murphy’s short film Stop looks at a moment where two strangers relate, at different stages in their life, for unfortunate reasons. Karen (Lisa Kay) is emotionally frazzled, waiting at the bus stop with a suitcase, though her commitment to her act of escape wavers. Niki (Tahirah Sharif) recognizes the signs Karen is exhibiting, and reaches out, hoping that sharing her experience in life will help Karen handle her own.
It’s an exercise in empathy as the two discuss, and roles are reversed; Karen may be the older of the two women, but Niki has more experience and history concerning Karen’s current predicament. Karen is trying to reason her way through it, but it’s flawed reasoning as logic takes a backseat to emotions, and Niki is trying to save Karen even more grief. Karen’s story is too common an experience, and Niki wants her to know that she is not alone, and there is help, if Karen will commit to taking it.
It’s an emotional thirteen minutes, and the film plays out in a fairly realistic fashion. The cinematic experience is heightened by a sure-hand behind the camera, and a confident edit that works with the emotional ebb and flow of the characters. Simply, it’s a film that comes together in just the right way, with nary a hiccup.
So why haven’t I given this five stars? That’s where the more subjective elements of the review come into play; while technically I found nothing wrong with the film at all, and even think it is a strong piece of filmmaking altogether, I didn’t feel like it said anything new. Regardless of how it was to end, there wasn’t going to be a revelation one way or the other that made this standout. That doesn’t mean the film isn’t powerful, it just means the subject is tragically commonplace, and the message one that we’ve heard before. Which is extremely depressing; I’ll be happy when we don’t need to tell these stories, because they’re not as relevant anymore.
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