Directed by Lee Whittaker
Starring Lee Whittaker, Amanda Hall, Laur Allen, Jamie M. Timmons, Michael Edelstein, Pat Milicano
Short Film Review by Chris Olson
Never one to shy away from controversial topics, filmmaker Lee Whittaker has a proven track record of telling stories that get to the heart of important and compelling themes. His previous short film, Catching Fireflies, was a whimsical yet engaging tale about child homelessness. Not so whimsical, but just as engaging short film Aimee, tackles another difficult subject - child sex trafficking in the U.S. - with formidable results in all aspects of filmmaking, but giving audiences too much of a good thing.
Ex-marine Jessica (Amanda Hall) is desperately searching for her sister Aimee (Jamie M. Timmons) who has been abducted by child sex traffickers. We see her frustrations with the local law enforcement (Pat Milicano), who seem unable or unwilling to find the culprits with any immediate effect, turn into explosive action as she and Lee Whittaker’s character track down the perpetrators, with the hope of recovering her sibling. Meanwhile, we see the living conditions of Aimee, who is cooped up with several other victims, under the uncaring watch of a surly overseer (Laur Allen) who is preparing Aimee to see her first “client” (Michael Edelstein).
Like a 9-minute movie trailer with exceptional creative flair, Aimee is like being teased with what promises to be an amazing feature film, only to leave you desperately hoping for more when it cuts off abruptly at the end. It’s kind of like watching a mash-up between the best bits of Room and Taken, with more stylistic cinematography.
There are so many exceptional moments in Aimee. A beautiful shot of a woman in the water is used in several moments during the film which is absolutely breathtaking, as is a scene where Jessica flies through a wall (Whittaker and Hall showing their stunt chops here). Alongside the action, are incredibly moving and horrific moments of trepidation as we watch Timmons deliver some exceptionally emotive sequences during her captivity. Her small dialogue with Edelstein’s paedophile is completely captivating.
The main issue with Aimee is that it is too short. This is a criticism we usually lob at short films that we really enjoy, and I did really enjoy Aimee as a movie, however, with Whittaker’s film, the running time is a genuine problem. The film is chock-a-block with so many threads, as well as the juxtaposing pacing of the two main storylines (Jessica’s hunt moves at breakneck speed, whilst Aimee’s situation is more delicate), that audiences will not feel satisfied watching it. Instead, it is like being bludgeoned peppered with small moments to catch our breath, before being bludgeoned again.
Perhaps there was a purpose to this. All of the movie’s external marketing is focused on pushing out the larger message, attempting to bring the themes and issues to the forefront. By having the film assault the audience like this, it could hammer home the importance. Whether or not this tactic was intentional or not, however, it is difficult to recommend Aimee as a short film. It simply does not work at the current length. It needs fully fleshing out, a chance to let all the fantastic elements which are already there time to breathe and build. Like being given all your favourite foods as a starter, audiences will crave Whittaker’s film as a full banquet with all the trimmings of a feature length.
Watch the official movie trailer for Aimee below...