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Away From It All short film review


Directed by: #MasonThorne

Written by: #MasonThorne


After a year of having the majority of our communication be done over the phone, audiences should be able to easily relate to the heart of Away From It All, a short film directed by Mason Thorne about a woman whose futile attempts to get through to her insurance company leave her on the brink of a breakdown.

Shannon (Stephanie Barkley) is slowly being driven crazy by her insurance company’s automated call system. Her repeated attempts to get through are thwarted by a robotic voice and confusing dial options, to the point that she is winding herself up at her own imaginary phone calls. She flees to the beach to find solace, only for one last attempt to push her over the edge. But a chance encounter with a stranger Barbara (Willow Hale) offers an alternative solution to her stress.

Away From It All is an eccentric and energetic look at how we communicate, and how the rush of the modern world can play havoc with our emotions. Director Mason Thorne ricochets viewers with fast-paced, intense edits that pulsate in the early stages as Shannon riles herself up, before slowing the pace of the film down to match the serenity she feels upon freeing herself from her phone and meeting Barbara. The frantic back and forth expertly mimics our inability to take ourselves out of the daily grind, and even when Shannon manages to ‘get away from it all’, its not long before that itch to re-engage returns – along with heavy drum-n-base music and jumping cuts.

Tonally the film is contemplative and thoughtful, with a humorous side thrown in for good measure. Shannon’s inner-journey to shut the problems causing her anxiety away is a relatable one, and is well demonstrated as a real and serious challenge. Zen master Barbara’s dry method of disciplining Shannon, and toying with her after an outburst is both amusing and devilish, and pays off with a brilliant ending.

Stephanie Barkley is a brilliant lead as Shannon, excellently portraying her justified frustration and anger which is clearly directed at issues deeper than being unable to change her registered e-mail. She also brings a helplessness and vulnerable side to the character, who clearly desperately needs to free herself of the complexities of the modern world. Willow Hale is enigmatic as the tranquil Barbara, whose own frustration at having her relaxation interrupted is intriguingly displayed.

Production-wise the film is slick and professional, with imaginative editing and well-utilised video effects. The use of intercut footage helps create a chaotic sense whilst simultaneously alluding to technology as the cause of Shannon’s stresses. The sound editing is also a joy, as Barbara’s voice slowly morphs into the distance - mimicking a phone call – as she makes her own frustration clear. The transition to silence, which grows into the sound of the ocean is another nice touch to emphasise the difference when we shut off from the world.

Original and creative, Away From It All is a worthy short film that tells an interesting and thoughtful story with comedic bite.



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