Review of The Journey of Alfred Small: “An interesting piece and a vibrant promise of things to come.”
Thom Clipsom reviews the first film from London-based production company Old Lamp Films.
The problem with short films is that they intrisically lack the space needed to create full filmic worlds. Short film-makers need to be acutely aware of this when designing their narratives. The lens needs to briefly dip into an engaging world that we never really know enough about. It is ultimately the viewer, although guided by the film-maker’s hand, that fills in the gaps.
The Journey of Alfred Small is the story of the eponymous embittered old man and a young victimised mother Kendal (Tayo Elesin). When the two accidentally meet, their opposing worlds collide. That is until Kendal needs Alfred’s (Philip Goldacre) help the most. This drama is revealed to us primarily through a flashback cued by a police report that an injured and dishevelled Alfred is reluctant to give.
The character of Alfred Small is very well evoked. This is a combination of solid performance and economical direction and writing. When he says that “…there aren’t any other chairs, you’ll have to stand up”, we know exactly the kind of man Alfred is – costume and gesture drive this home.
Tonally, the film is interesting in the way it guides grief and sorrow into redemption using lighting and sound, if at times heavy-handed. There is some classy cinematography here that gives the tender and mournful moments some real weight.
At just twenty two minutes long, it might seem strange for me to comment that I think the film is too long. The ending of The Journey of Alfred Small is its main flaw. Not satisfied with leaving on a darker note with some loose ends, the filmmakers have instead tagged on a resolution. When you can only supply a limited amount of information to your audience their imagination is your best friend and sometimes it is simply better to leave them to it. Still, as Old Lamp Films’ first production, The Journey of Alfred Small is an interesting piece and a vibrant promise of things to come.
You can view The Journey of Alfred Small at www.thejourneyofalfredsmall.com.
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