As Vitamin D opens, text thanks the Children of the Night, “a non-profit dedicated to supporting and caring for teenagers with sunlight allergies.” From there we see a young man, Tim (Drew Horton), on his deathbed, cementing how severe the danger can be. After Tim’s death, we meet Beth (Celine Linarte), another suffering from sunlight allergies. Beth is caught off-guard by the death of her friend, and tries to come to terms with her feelings about the loss while at the same time navigating her day-to-day relationship with her boyfriend J (Matthew Bond).
Saumene Mehrdady‘s short film Vitamin D has a quality setup, and a compelling ending, but meanders too much for my liking in the middle. It’s not that the performances aren’t good, they’re not bad, but they can’t compensate for the stakes-setting of the opening, and the drama of the ending, because nothing really happens in the middle to ramp up to the conclusion. Along the way, everything is given a bit too much space to inhabit in the edit.
For example, a scene with J exercising, when coupled with previous elements of dialogue, help establish his personality. It does, in a way, setup how the end of the film could come to be, at least in how it relates to his character’s personality. So, it does its job… and then lingers on. This happens in other ways throughout the film, including with a conversation that Beth has on the phone. The narrative and editorial bloat undercuts the power of the ending.
Since the film opens with a death, thus setting the stakes for the allergy to the sun, it’s a clean narrative cut for the film to go quiet and then build to its end. When things do little in the middle but float, albeit with a nice touch here or there to establish J and Beth (such as Beth’s getting ready to go out sequence involving layers upon layers of clothes), the ending, when it comes, seems sudden and severely out of character. There was no ramp up, no hinting, at least for Beth, that she could be so suddenly irresponsible. The result is a feeling that the ending doesn’t fit with what we’ve just seen. It’s not a bad ending, but there’s little to make you believe you could get there from the previous minutes’ here.
In the end, I think Vitamin D has some interesting visuals, and the music by undocument is a highlight for sure, but the narrative never truly connected with me. I’m not going to make some blanket statement like “I think it could lose a few minutes,” because I don’t think this is a case of the edit needing a severe hatchet job. Instead, I think it’s more subtle and delicate; there are quality elements throughout, they all have their place, but there’s more to those elements than is necessary to make the most impact, and they could all use some trimming and tightening.
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