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By Mark Bell | July 13, 2013

Honoring the request of their recently deceased brother Tommy, Philip (Thomas Wesson) and Darryl (Brian Kawa) head out into the woods surrounding their family’s estate to take target practice with memorabilia from Tommy’s life. As the duo shoot and destroy items such as a prized baseball or piggy bank, their memories of Tommy return, as do other dynamics from their youth. Emotions rise as the two, spurred on by the inhibition-lowering effects of alcohol, work through their grief and their relationship with one another.

Nick Perlman’s short film, The Estate, is a study in grief and family dynamics. Darryl easily slides back into the role of dominating older brother, as Philip becomes the younger brother who is both trying his best to compete while simultaneously battling with himself over whether to do so. When the two question why Tommy wanted them to discard of his things in such a destructive manner, it becomes clear to the audience that there is a resolution of some sort to be found in the endeavor, even if it may not come until long after the credits roll.

The film is mostly a quiet affair, save for the gunshots, that builds in strength as the unspoken tensions arise. Even the dynamic between Darryl’s wife Cheryl (Jennifer Edwards Kawa) and Philip’s girlfriend Lindsay (Laura Pellegrini) is somewhat strained, though less because of any issues between them but because of a lack of knowledge of each other. It makes for an anxious, unsure vibe despite the relaxed setting of short.

Which entirely works to the film’s advantage, as we never know exactly what type of tale this will wind up being until it is over. Is it a complicated meditation on grief and family that is about to turn tragic and violent? What revelations, if any, will be revealed as the brothers pick off pieces of Tommy’s past? Where is all this going?

The unsure nature adds to that anxiety I mentioned earlier, but it also underlines the power inherent in the film as presented. It could go anywhere. It could end horribly, it could end pleasantly… it never betrays itself so obviously as to become predictable or routine, which makes it a more absorbing experience.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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