British by the Grace of God (Short) – BFI London Film Festival Review

British by the Grace of God is an intimate short set during the summer of the Brexit referendum in Scotland, focusing on Irene (Kate Dickie), a middle aged woman who has nothing but love and support to offer, but is often shunned for it. Be it her cold husband, her distant son or her judgemental friends, she struggles to find her place with any of them.

British by the Grace of God is a very tender and gentle film; it captures it’s small scale well and is beautifully crafted to be a slow and quiet piece. Kate Dickie is fantastic in the lead, and the film has such a gentle touch to it. It’s very well paced and feels completely ordinary, never once becoming convoluted or contrived and sticks to what it’s doing so well.

Having said that, I’m not entirely sure what I was supposed to take away from this film. There are some…Interesting moments, let’s say, that feel very out of place, and I’m wondering if it’s because the short length does it no favours. I’m not entirely certain of the relevance of the Brexit backdrop, nor if I understand what this film builds up to, or perhaps if it’s purposely vague.

Of course, I could just be missing something in what is otherwise a tender and emotional film that has an excellent lead performance and knows exactly what type of film it’s aiming to be, and nails it in it’s direction and editing. British by the Grace of God is great output from Sean Dunn, who is clearly a talented filmmaker, and we’d hope to see more from him in the future.

British by the Grace of God is playing at BFI London Film Festival! 

Comeback Kid (Short) – BFI London Film Festival Review

Comeback Kid is the chilling story of a man who comes home to find his wife cheating on him, and dies shortly after as he attempts to get away. 16 years later, he’s been re-incarnated as a teenager, and finds himself back in his old world in the most horrifying way.

Comeback Kid is brilliant; it’s been a long time since I’ve seen something to make my skin crawl, but this truly nails it. I really don’t want to give too much away, but almost effortlessly, the film establishes a weird and creepy atmosphere, that only gets more and more uncomfortable as it goes on. It relies heavily on dramatic irony to freak the audience out, and is just one of those films where you want to scream “No don’t do that!” repeatedly with the information you’re given. It’s almost unbearable to watch, but the way the plot unfolds is sheer genius, and it’s a concept that you’d kick yourself for not thinking of.

Huge credit to Tom Cawte for an exceptional performance; as young Hugh, he makes the transition from innocent teenager to the damaged young man he becomes following the film’s overwhelmingly messed up events so seamless. It’s a very natural progression. It’s not at all forced or unbelievable, and whilst I’d love to go into detail about why it’s so well done, I couldn’t possibly without giving the ending away, and it’s imperative that you don’t know how this unfolds.

On top of all that, it’s very well shot, has an interesting use of graphics and is just by far one of the most unique and disturbing short films I’ve ever seen. Check it out any chance you get, because it really is something special.

Comeback Kid plays as part of Gits & Shiggles at BFI London Film Festival! 

The Night I Dance With Death (Short) – BFI London Film Festival Review

There are a lot of people out there that associate animation with childishness; cartoons for kids, live action films are for adults. Granted, there aren’t many dedicated film fans out there with this mindset but I see it in comments sections and forum posts, the idea that because it’s not real, it’s not for them, but there have been countless examples over the years of animated films that have proven this to be false. The true appeal of animation is that we can do what can’t be done in real life, and The Night I Dance With Death is a perfect example of what we can do, and what we should do, with animation.

The Night I Dance With Death is a near silent short focusing on a young’s man surreal journey after taking a psychedelic drug at a party. Things start off well, but soon turn very dark, and pretty much all of it is stunning. This fascinating showcases the highs and low of drug use and just how easily it can change from good to bad. What’s beautiful is that both of these opposing experiences take no real identifiable form; it’s a vivid display of beautiful colours and striking images that are surreal and challenging, but captivating and enticing. The title itself is fantastic as well, not only being captivating but suiting the film so well, despite the surreal nature of the film.

The way the film flows is simply stunning, and it’s existence is a perfect slap in the face to anyone who thinks that animation can only be simple. There’s nothing simple about this film; it’s six minutes of pure ecstasy – pun slightly intended – that is spellbinding, and perhaps inspiring to anyone out there who loves to experiment with animation. The Night I Dance with Death is simply marvellous.

The Night I Dance With Death features as part of BFI London Film Festival!