Directed by Alan King
Starring Alan King, Dino Marnika and Paul King
Short film review by Chris Olson
A poetic and suspenseful journey through one man's past in this short film, A Way Back, written and directed by Alan King. Drawing on influences from a range of cinematic genres, King's film is a deeply rich and evocative piece that visually questions the human condition and our perception of our past.
Leo (Alan King) is undergoing therapy with Jorgen (Dino Marnika) in order to understand a peculiar dream that is haunting him, Leo, involving a Luftwaffe fighter plane. It is revealed that Leo's past contains a large regret and something which may forever plague his conscience.
In terms of a synopsis this may seem a little brief, it would be detrimental to go much further because there is a tragic splendour to the unfolding of this short film which audiences should enjoy for themselves. However, I will say that this is really, really smart storytelling with superb filmmaking to match. King utilises intensely dramatic dialogue and intrigue with abstract visuals to create a bottomless depth to his movie that is as immersive as it is entertaining. Scenes are seamlessly joined that keeps the arthouse nature of the aesthetic from narrowing its appeal, instead delivering a fluid narrative that dissolves into the next, gripping sequence. Erick McNerney's score is utterly captivating, complementing the tone of A Way Back perfectly, which is a difficult feat given the complex makeup of its structure and themes.
The performances are really strong, including Paul King who turns up as one of Leo's "ghosts". Alan King is understandably comfortable as his own character creation, still delivering a gripping and formidable performance. The scenes between Alan King and Dino Marnika are particularly engrossing, reminiscent of Hitchcockian dramas and classic noir.
There were a few moments where the pacing felt a little heavy handed, too quick to move on where a little breathing room could have allowed the themes to percolate a touch more. The themes of the short film are its biggest strength, and were captured well, for the most part, revealing that this could definitely have been made into a feature. The phrase "thought provoking" is thrown around quite liberally, but A Way Back deserves such a tag. Leo's anxiety about his troubling past and the realisation of the finality of his regrets will strike a chord with most viewers, reinforced with some picturesque ocean cinematography that betrays the unending and irreversible nature of one's actions.