Directed by Paul Holbrook and Sam Dawe
Starring Matilda Randall, Brian Croucher, Laura Bayston & Joe Sims
Short film review by Sarah Smeaton
This edgy short film is the epitome of what makes British film so outstanding and admired around the world. A brilliant story of a down-trodden, ordinary teenage girl shunned from the world by everyone around her. With nobody in her life seemingly understanding her, her only form of solace is in watching old cowboy and western movies.
Right from the opening scene in A Girl and Her Gun, the cinematic technique of using small, otherwise insignificant, focus points is a captivating one. It’s these small details right at the onset without any initial focus on the surroundings that leaves us as the viewer begging for more. Creaking wheels on a wheelchair, the ticking of the second hand on a wristwatch and the clinking of handcuffs on a hospital bed. With such little information we’re already able to draw an immeasurable interpretation of what’s happening, and what’s more, directors Paul Holbrook and Sam Dawe have our attention focused exactly where they want it. Leading to the desire for us to keep viewing and to discover these characters as they beautifully unfold on screen.
Joe Sims, who you’ll have seen from Broadchurch as Nige, plays the role of Clive here superbly. He’s equal parts loathsome, pitiful and aggressive. His complete disregard for ‘the girl’ and any feelings she might have escalate throughout this short film until we have a fantastic scene in which ‘the girl’ visibly realises that she’s had enough of being walked over and abused by so many people around her. There is a stand-out moment where ‘the girl’ catches Clive on the stairs in the process of trying to rape her mother. The situation in itself is disturbing enough to hold the viewer. The tension between these two characters, though, is palpable. Team this with the close-ups of only their eyes to show where their minds are at, the intense music interspersed with wonderful moments of silence and the sublime acting here, and what we have is one of the most gripping scenes you’re likely to see on screen. And I don’t say that lightly.
I think what’s so clever about the screenwriting here is that everyone will, on some level, be able to identify with ‘the girl’, fantastically played by Matilda Randall in her debut role, and who reminded me of the unforgettable character of Mathilda (Natalie Portman) in Léon. Everyone will at some point have been pushed around by someone supposedly bigger or tougher than them, and no the answer isn’t with a gun, but we do come to the understanding that through her passion for cowboy and western movies, ‘the girl’ manages to claim her own identity back and stand up to the bullies in her life. Whatever questions of morality are summoned from this film, it is most certainly empowering in parts and gripping in others. A must see for any lover of British film.