★★★★ Directed by: #EllisEFowler
Written by: #EllisEFowler
#Anniversary is a sci-fi drama set in the not-so-distant future that focuses on a nervous Eric Fuller on the morning of his wedding day. However, what at first appears to be a case of pre-wedding jitters soon reveals itself to be something much more, as Eric makes a difficult phone call to end the affair he has been having with a secret lover.
Elaborating any further on the plot would serve only to deny #Anniversary one of its strongest hands. Despite coming in at just over ten minutes, the narrative is full of little revelations and twists that, due to the nature of the semi-futuristic setting, are often difficult to predict. This successful storytelling is helped massively by an impressive script, penned by director and star, Ellis E. Fowler. It constantly fluctuates between snappy efficiency and powerful emotional beats that consistently hit the mark. Tackling topics such as love, loss, letting go and the effects technology may go on to have on our relationships, the short film takes its premise and explores it as fully as possible within the constraints of the time and budget.
However, a good idea and script can so easily fall apart if the performances don't sell it. Fortunately, that is not the case here; Fowler does a spectacular job portraying a guilt-ridden man who has to make a painful decision. The real star of the show, though, is Ester Jiron who plays the secret lover, Sarah, with a real conviction. Tears build in her eyes, her voice strains as she shouts, every emotional beat of the story is truthfully sold by her fantastic performance as it bounces off of Fowler's more reserved, sombre acting.
These scenes are propelled even further by a powerful original score, also produced by Ellis E. Fowler. The music swells to accompany the most affecting moments and there is an instance towards the end of the film where some real originality is deployed in its method of invigorating the audience.
If there is one minor complaint to be made about the film, it is in the execution of some of the more high concept aspects. Taking place in the near-future, the audience sees Eric make the phone call using a digital watch that projects a hologram to form a video call. While the special effects here are certainly impressive, it is in the explanation of the in-universe rules that a very slight issue arises. In having to sell a relatively high concept to the audience in a short amount of time, some exposition does pass through in a way that doesn't feel entirely natural. This, however, is only a very small gripe and doesn't serve to undo any of the otherwise brilliant work that has clearly been put into the film.
#Anniversary is a surprising short film, especially when considering its runtime. It confidently introduces the audience to its characters and world, provides effective twists along the way and looks and sounds great while doing it. By now, the dystopian sci-fi story has been told a thousand times and the market has become over-saturated. #Anniversary, however, is proof that talent and quality will rise; Fowler has created an original and gripping film that wouldn't feel out of place nestled away in a season of Black Mirror.