Quick Hit: Uncomfortable due to its subject matter, this short doesn’t quite get across its message.
Today’s short film is Shadow, written and directed by Nicholas Goodwin. Shadow deals with one of those most despicable topics that has come out over the past couple years, and that is the topic of college rape. I’m pretty conflicted writing this review, because it’s hard to distance yourself from the material. On one hand, I didn’t really like the film. There were a lot of qualities about it that I think needed some work, which I’ll touch on here shortly. But the film shook me. I watched it this morning, and I’ve been thinking about it most of the day. I think this is best done as a short, but if it could have been a bit better, may have been among the Oscar category type shorts you see in Awards season.
Essentially, the story is one I think (unfortunately) most people would recognize – a young girl who goes somewhere to see her crush and is taken advantage of by another guy. It’s despicable, turns my stomach, and the scenes are really tough to watch. One thing I think Mr. Goodwin did well was the fact that he was unflinching in his portrayal of this, and had no issue allowing his actress, Revell Carpenter, really take center stage. Without her, this movie would be completely lost. No offense to Mr. Goodwin, who also appears in the film, but she’s far and away the best performance in the short.
Therefore, I think it’s a shame that a topic of such magnitude, with such a great performance has some clumsy technical aspects.
For instance, the film starts and there is a real issue in the sound and lighting. I understand the desire to shoot darkly – it’s an extremely effective technique when done well – but here it is nearly impossible to make things out. Even if it was purposeful, it didn’t work for me. I also had a lot of trouble with the sound, because it made the dialogue really tough to hear. There were multiple times I backed up just to hear a conversation repeated so I could attempt to make out what was being said.
When you couple that with the consistent focus on people’s faces in the one bullying/torture scene, it just didn’t work at all for me. The film still focused on other people shaming Jane, and on men judging her. In other words, a movie about a woman who is abused by men still somehow comes off with the men as the main characters. I think there is some improvement in how the characterization can be handled here.
So, in the end, Shadow feels like a half-finished effort for me. The best I can give it honestly is a “D+” due to Ms. Carpenter’s tremendously emotional performance.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"