Written and Directed by Alastair Railton
Cinematography by Adam Hudson
Starring Francesca Louise White, Rayanna Dibs, Mark Wisdom, Alastair Railton
Short Film Review by Euan Franklin
Amateurism comes in all forms. Filmmakers of basic online-indies – mostly held together by cheap sellotape – usually stumble when working the equipment. But that’s not nearly as important as the story. These movies falter because of their narrative issues more than their technical incompetence, clumsily creating depthless characters and first-draft plot-structures. But in Between the Divide, writer-director Alastair Railton manages to deliver a serviceable story in spite of the visual and audial grievances.
After a corpse is found in an apartment, his throat cut, it’s left to Detective Eve Fischer (Francesca Louise White) to find the killer. She interrogates two suspects: one, a mentally perturbed woman called Harriett (Rayanna Dibs), and a weird corporate businessman with a psycho-smile (Mark Wisdom). But when Fischer’s suppressed past comes back to haunt her, reality becomes horribly disturbed and things are not as simple as they appear.
Between the Divide has a half-decent screenplay, already securing its place above most amateur efforts. You become curious about Fischer’s character, and Railton unfolds her story in an intensely alluring, subjective style. He likes dotting various peculiarities through the film, most notably the strange scar across the neck of Fischer’s partner (played by Railton himself). It pops up like an uncomfortable, unmentioned feature of the character, but is revealed as a key part of Fischer’s distorted experience. The film excels in these sorts of mysteries.
The performances are surprisingly vivid and engaging. White is excellent at playing the unstable detective, suppressing the emotions that gradually explode inside her. But she is surpassed by the other talents in the film. Dibs gives a realistic and memorable depiction of mental instability, while providing the little idiosyncrasies that make her character feel original. There are times when Wisdom is clearly doing a Hannibal Lector-impersonation while wearing a suit from Patrick Bateman’s wardrobe, but his delivery is scarily and perfectly patient. Railton gives him the best speeches, particularly when recounting the death of his family – melding great writing with a great performance.
But, following the unwanted convention of many online-indies, there are many technical faults in this movie – most obviously the sound editing. Either Railton has abnormal hearing, or he’s attempting to ignore the gaping audio holes between every cut (the title Between the Divide almost calls attention to that). There’s no decent underlying track, meaning there’s no consistent sound, and the result is like watching a stuttering train that never leaves the platform. It’s a pain to listen to, even more so when considering the decent quality of the dialogue.
Adam Hudson’s cinematography is bland and stunted, often striving for deep colours without competent colour-correction – making the film look more grey than was perhaps intended. To add injury to injury, the set-design doesn’t lend itself to great visuals; it’s not only basic, but also improbable. A decorative wallpaper is an unlikely choice for an Interrogation Room.
Between the Divide is on the edge of a good movie, despite the short runtime (40 minutes), and reminds you of the early experiments by Christopher Nolan and Darren Aronofsky – but it’s strangled by the technical hiccups. There’s something profound and enticing hidden in this film, but the crew are too inexperienced to discover it. I look forward to the day they do.
Watch the official trailer for Between the Divide below...