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A Past Tense Short Film Review


Written by: #ChrisMcQuire

Short Film Review by: #ChrisBuick


When his addict sister Lily (Tapako-Brown) comes to him desperate for yet more money so she can keep her place in rehab, Michael (McQuire) finds himself out of options and having to turn to desperate and horrific means to get his hands on some cash and ensure his sister continues to get the help she needs.

It may not be until the end credits start to roll that one might fully realise just how well put together A Past Tense really is. Sure, one can definitely appreciate both its technical prowess and acting talent right from the start and throughout, but A Past Tense is constructed in such a way that only when all is said and done can you sit back and really appreciate how deftly and intelligently it brings all of that together to tell its story, feeling like a giant jigsaw puzzle where only Director Daniel Alexander and writer/actor Chris McQuire have the picture on the box, choosing only to reveal all at just the right moment.

“Blurred are the lines between right and wrong”

It’s not a case of getting lucky either, Alexander and McQuire make for a really good team who know they have to earn the impact of their ending and they do the proper legwork to get us exactly where they want us to be, and through that hard work are able to deliver their eye-widening finale with great aplomb while also allowing us to understand Michael’s situation while never forcing us to sympathise with him.

Not only that, but A Past Tense presents itself to an incredibly high technical standard as well, both the look and feel of the film firmly planting its melancholic feet right from the start and while the fact that it never really makes a move to change gear tonally throughout does make for quite the heavy quarter of an hour of film, it always manages to keep things balanced just enough to never descend into complete despair or melodrama.

All of this is bolstered by some really good performances all round. Tenisha White as Amy does well with a couple of fleeting appearances. McQuire’s anguished expressions seem to come from a really genuine place and undoubtedly convinces as a man faced with disaster no matter what road he takes. Tapako-Brown handles her addict role not just with a commendable level of respect, but also manages to explore a number of layers in her performance such as finding ways for Lily to barb Michael with painful guilt while also never being able to hide how fragile she really is. But special mention must go to the heart-breaking portrayal of Hobday’s Mrs Gallagher, who not only rounds off an already applaudable film but is instrumental in its triumphant finish.

A Past Tense is deftly paced, well written and eloquently presented piece of filmmaking both technically and in its performances and one that can be equally rewarding and perhaps even appreciated all the more on subsequent viewings.



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