whispers 1Grief and heartbreak can be a difficult emotions to convey onto the screen by even the most prolific of film makers. A lot of the time it can come over as overwrought and tends to end up with the characters wallowing in their despair and eliciting little or no sympathy from their audience. In the wrong hands the end result looks like a bad TV movie of the week. To get the balance right is an art form in a feature length film and many times more difficult in a low budget short film.

Lewis (Andrew McLellan) is grieving. His wife Annie is dead and he is having a really hard time coming to terms with it. Instead of time being a healer it seems that it only amplifies the feelings of loneliness and detachment. Unable to concentrate on anything he almost walks in front of a car. At his side appears Annie (Elizabeth Baillie) to give a word of comfort. He is so confused he cannot  figure out if it was real or not.  At the end of his tether Lewis decides to end his life. As he is about to jump to his death he is interrupted by Poppy (Becky Waugh). She talks him off the edge of death and starts to tease out a little about his problems.

whispers 3This is a thoroughly engaging short film. In the relatively short running time of twenty minutes a complex tale of life and death is conveyed in an original and interesting manner. The narrative switches from real to imaginary with ease and the drama unfolding moves well from the present to the past. There is a clever device used on a number of occasions where a characters dialogue leads into a major event in past for Lewis. Praise is due to Director / Writer / Producer Claire Wolfe for this.

Andrew McLellan is on screen for the entirety of the running time and is burdened with carrying the film. This he does with some style. His performance is natural and expressive. He is totally believable as the man with nothing to live for. His state of mind is played out not only in his delivery but in the way he holds himself. It is as if he physically slumps a little lower with each reminder of what he has lost.

The other major role belongs to Becky Waugh. She is convincing as the initially annoying chatterbox Poppy. As her screen time increases in a very natural two hander with Lewis you see the depth of her characterisation developing to the point where you are questioning exactly who this girl is and why did she appear in Lewis’s moment of need. A very impressive performance indeed.

I was very taken with the look of the film. For the memories of Annie the shots were done in black and white giving the effect of distance from reality and time. What I found appealing was that during the initial sequences of Lewis as he struggled with his grief  the scenes were shot with a shallow focus which concentrated you onto Lewis and forced you to read his expression and engage with his situation to a greater degree than with a normal shot. It made Lewis’s feelings of despair and isolation all the more powerful to the viewer without need for any over the top dramatics.

Overall an engaging and finely crafted film. Recommended.

John McArthur
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