David: Hello and welcome to DoubleFeaturePreachers.com. Today’s short film is called To Be Alone. The film was sent in by the star of the film, Timothy Cox. For those interested, here’s a link to the IMDB page. We’ve previously reviewed a film by the same duo of Cox and director Matthew Mahler - that was What Jack Built, which is similar in its themes of loneliness.
The film is a deep deconstruction of faith, loss, and grief. It deals heavily with some religious themes that may not appeal to all viewers. I however, really enjoyed To Be Alone. I found the slow burn of the tension to be really effective when leading up to the final scene.
Shannon, what was your initial thought when watching To Be Alone?
Shannon: My initial thoughts were that I was really confused as to what was going on. For the most part, thanks to Cox’s acting and portrayal of his character, it was evident that he lost someone. But then when one of the final scenes happened, it just left me with more and more questions as to why he was alone and what actually happened.
I do know what you mean about how this short film falls heavily on religious themes. To me, it seemed like the main character was struggling with his faith? Did this come across to you, David? Or am I just imagining things.
Also, like you said before, this film has the same duo (Cox and Mahler), and similar to What Jack Built there is no dialogue. This is again great for the type of film that they are trying to come across and through Cox doesn’t say anything at all, I still commend him on the job he did on screen and how he was able to bring the tension and loneliness to the viewers. Did you think this helped the film move along?
David: Cox is probably my favorite short film actor of the ones we have reviewed (and with my experience at festivals - that’s quite a few). He stars again here in a film that is heavy on acting and low on dialogue. That’s a tricky line for lots of people to walk, but Cox portrays this loss as something that weighs heavy on his heart. It’s more than just tears, it’s in the longing in his eyes, and his general attitude as well.
I would say that faith is probably one of the main themes of the film, and that Cox’s character is indeed struggling with his faith. Whenever you lose someone close to you, it’s a really tough attitude to maintain - the classic “everything happens for a reason,” “they’re in a better place”. But if it’s unexpected, and the person in question is young (and I have every reason from the film to believe it was Cox’s wife that passed) - it’s even more difficult because you can’t help but question “WHY?” It’s the fundamental human question, and our lack of understanding in an all powerful God leads us to it again and again. Very few films in general, let alone shorts, would have the bravery to tackle such a theme, but Mahler and Cox handle it masterfully.
What did you think of the imagery with the Christmas lights in the film?
Shannon: I liked that he utilized Christmas lights near the end of the film, through I don’t really have an insight on WHY he did this. Did you have any ideas? Also, I want to ask you a question, so SPOILERS right here:
I’m wondering why he buried his wife in the middle of the woods rather than calling someone or having her a funeral and all. Do you believe that this goes back to his struggle with faith? Like he wanted to be the only one to admire the cross and lights? For awhile I thought he may have killed her or something, but that wouldn’t make sense with the title and how he was grieving throughout the entire film.
Back to the lights… I really liked the scene when he’s standing there illuminated by the Christmas lights and the sheriff just stands in the background.
David: I am not sure why either, besides the fact that Christmas lights are beautiful and obviously represent the time of the year of the Savior’s birth. To discuss your spoiler, I’m not entirely sure, and I think you are making a bold interpretation. It’s interesting to note that the cross is hand built, and that Cox carries it himself to the grave. The sheriff also notes on the phone call that he missed Cox at the service today. Is it possible that the service was for the same woman? If so, has noone noticed that there’s not a body? It got pretty confusing, but I liked it - it made me think.
The ending scene is a really good note to end on, and the scenery is just perfect.
Overall, I think that this is another “A” from me. What would you rate it?
Shannon: I think I’m going to give it a “Liked It” rating. (4/5) I’m pretty sure I over-analyzed everything there in my spoilers section, but still the film was good, much like all the other shorts we’ve watched from Cox.
You can watch the short here.
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David and Shannon write about movies.