Utilising time is an essential trick to creating a short film; with only so many minutes at hand, it’s important to keep track of what’s going on, making sure that nothing feels incomplete, yet also note taking it too far or moving it faster than it should be allowed to. It’s a difficult task, but Here Lies Joe handles this better than maybe any other short film I’ve seen.
Joe, a suicidal man, attends a support group where he meets Z, a disarming and troubled young woman who leads him on a series of adventures that change his outlook on life.
The film almost falls into manic pixie dream girl territory with the character of Z, but it very quickly establishes her as something far more grounded; vulnerable and not willing to show it, Andi Morrow brings so much energy and charisma to the role, that she uplifts us almost as she uplifts Joe. Speaking of Joe, serious credit to Dean Temple for successfully embodying a broken and lost man with absolutely no reliance on exposition or backstory. He just sinks into the role, to a point where you almost want to pull him back out because it feels too much.
Carrying on from that, the film’s lack of exposition is simply perfect; it offers you no rhyme or reason for why Joe and Z are the way they are, it just presents to you a bleak and sometimes darkly comic tale which doesn’t rely on anything artificial. The cinematography is stunning, with certain shots providing eerie and uneasy imagery that’s hard to shake. It takes it’s time, doesn’t rush anything yet doesn’t take anything too slow, just lets the story move at the pace that it needs to move and it’s simply beautiful.
I can’t give enough credit to this film; it captures so many dark emotions in a way that’s not contrived or unnatural, through stellar performance, haunting direction and perfect pacing. This is most definitely a film that you need to see.