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Beneath the Waves Short Film Review

Directed by: #JamesCunningham

Short Film Review by: #ChrisBuick


It’s hard to imagine one feeling more infuriated and disappointed for almost an entire eight minutes than one might while watching Beneath the Waves, a film that despite having three writers attached, still manages to feel completely without story, drama or anything noteworthy in fact.

The official synopsis for James Cunnigham’s film reads as such; Two brothers embark on a surfing trip together, attempting to bury past grievances in the process. As their surfing adventure unravels, so do the delicate and fragile bonds of brotherhood.

Honestly, many viewers might be hard pressed to draw comparisons between that supposed premise and what actually unfolds, perhaps asking themselves if they’re accidentally watching something else entirely. We know basically just as much by the end of the film as we did at the start, which is virtually nothing. We get zero insight as to who these people are, what their relationship is, what happened between them. In fact, without that brief plot summation, one would probably never even connect the two as brothers. Asking the audience to use their imagination is one thing (when done well it actually can be a great thing), but then there are just complete misfires in writing which sadly, is the category this film falls into. Obviously, we don’t need or even want it all spelled out for us, but there is literally nothing for us to go on from beginning to end.

And unfortunately, what little we are actually shown is completely devoid of any sense of excitement or interest either, even the surfing is tedious to watch. The mere seconds of “drama” that the film unashamedly crowbars in is so fleeting, so unapologetically swept aside and unrealistically resolved (one brother steals from the other, and after a very brief and unconvincing heated exchange, all it takes is listening to some music and a naked shower to make things right) that the frustration one feels watching becomes almost unbearable, mostly because it makes no sense.

Any film that is absent of dialogue such as this means we often end up having to rely on our leads to convey what we need to know about them and their world through their expressions, their nuances and their interactions. However, all we get from Felix and Prazmo is a constant barrage of overly dramatic glares and frantic head-shaking towards one another as the film relentlessly tries to drive the point home that there might be some friction here, but never enough to make you care.

The basics of characterisation and story for any film are simple; why should we care about its characters, their predicament or their world? But that seems to have been completely forgotten here. Totally missing the mark and quite frankly just plain boring, Beneath the Waves is a film that certainly doesn’t make any, in fact, it doesn't even create a ripple.


Watch the trailer here:


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