Alex Lane’s short film Within explores whether history must repeat, and whether the cycles we pick up from childhood are guaranteed to endure throughout our lives. In this case, we’re introduced to Bobby (Alex Lane) as he describes via voiceover some advice he received from his drunk, gambling and eventual suicide victim father (Eric Etebari). Despite the poor example the man set for his son, Bobby still managed to find his way to his father’s path to walk in his footsteps, complete with going to the same location where his father killed himself in order to do the same thing.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, childhood can really f**k you up. So much is absorbed into our personalities and habits based on our growing up whether we recognize it at the time or not, and there is a fear that we’ll only ever be a product of that experience; that history not only can and does repeat, it does so far more often than not. But there is hope in that last bit, because once we realize the cycle, we have a choice to make about whether to continue with it.
Beyond the philosophical, Within adds a bit of a supernatural twist to its proceedings to perhaps personify that hope I mentioned previously. It’s not schmaltzy or cheesy, but there is a salvation element to it that might not gel with everyone. It worked for me, however.
The most challenging aspect about writing this review is that, while I liked the film, I didn’t love it. At the same time, I didn’t hate it. For some reason, despite the philosophical questions at the heart of the short, I didn’t quite connect with the film.
It’s competent in all regards, doesn’t feel overlong for a short despite its twenty-minute running time and isn’t an unpleasant experience at all. For me, though, something was just missing and the film is fine, but not wonderful. It’s one of those films that hangs out in the middle.
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