Directed by: Steven Kammerer
Written by: Steven Kammerer
Starring: Julie Bruns, Hanneke Talbot, John Emmet Tracy,
The real life of Ada Lovelace, famous mathematician and one of the first computer programmers, has not been adapted to film very often, aside from one starring Tilda Swinton named Conceiving Ada. This makes this short film more of an interesting beast, being a mini-biopic that does not have the standard studio/TV backing that most biopics have. Yet it manages to be quite good.
In 1800’s England, cancer-stricken Ada Lovelace (Julie Bruns) pitches her idea for a computer and asks for funding but is rejected. She attempts to continue work despite these issues, with her servant Mary (Hanneke Talbot) betting on a game to win money to solve the problem.
Ada does feel unoriginal in regard to it’s themes. A woman struggling in Victorian times, a scientist who wants to finish their work and someone wanting to make a difference before they die are all stories that have been told countless times. But the presentation is effective enough to where that does not matter, and the short nature means that is able to get straight to the point of the drama. The direction and pacing are both stellar, they engage you in the narrative and the narrative itself is well written too. You care about Ada herself and you care about her plight. Her relationships are also simple yet easy to be invested in.
What is most notable about this film is just how bleak the tone is. The entire thing is totally depressing at almost every minute but again, because of the tight pacing it does not become a slog. This is increased/decreased by the ending, which feels abrupt and down, yet also optimistic, though the conflict regarding the game is wrapped up too quickly and vaguely. Overall, the script is strong despite a couple of weaknesses.
Performance-wise, Julie Bruns is great in the dramatic scenes. She sells Ada’s desperation and sadness perfectly and Matthew Kevin Anderson does a good job as her husband as well, with a scene they share being the best one. Technically, the cinematography looks a bit cheap (with one moment where it outright goes out of focus) and the opening credits font looks particularly amateur, but these are not large problems. The orchestral score is well composed and moving, the camerawork is decent and the editing is tight yet not too rushed.
Ada is a sad yet well done short movie that is effectively dramatic and excellently acted. It is one of the better short films in recent memory as well.