Written by: #LorenzoFedon
When Benedict (a widowed baker) has to close his bakery due to bankruptcy, his world collapses, and his place in it has been made redundant. Feeling like no longer has a reason to live, he packs up his few precious belongings, ties them to his leg, and prepares to jump from a bridge. But then a young boy comes along: a persistently chatty and curious young boy who has managed to sneak away from his school group to go wandering. It’s his birthday…and he wants a cake.
Casting Directors don’t get nearly enough credit for their part in the making of a movie. Bad casting can result in the derailing of an otherwise perfectly good film. For my part, I intend to remedy that, for the very heart and soul of this film is that casting; that central pairing of Steve Watts and Riley Kerr. And Torie Eliza’s superb work here is mostly to thank. The quality of the performances themselves are important – incidentally, they’re outstanding – but here, it’s the chemistry between the characters that take centre stage, and it does not disappoint.
Lorenzo Fedon’s screenplay is superb, and both the narrative and dialogue add depth and credibility to the characters - although, I’m not entirely sure I buy into a child just being able to leave his school group the way he does here. But what impresses me most is how perfectly it displays the catastrophic effect Covid-19 has had on small businesses – whether it was supposed to or not – as well as mental health.
But there is an issue of confusing tonality here, in that these are important subject matters that need attention drawing to them. And, to be fair, both are treated with total respect. The problem stems from Jofre Bardagí’s (wonderfully) whimsical score: I love it, but it does lend a slightly comical vibe to scenes which perhaps shouldn’t have that. On the other hand, that humorous, almost relaxed overtone is quite welcome at times, as the movie could easily have gotten very dark.
As far as film titles go, Bittersweet may well be one of the aptest, as its seemingly happy ending belies the one constant of mental illness’ many forms: despite anything we do, there is no cure; it never truly leaves us. Bittersweet is an incredibly well-handled and well-judged movie that’s both thought-provoking and entertaining and has one of the most poignant endings of a short film I’ve seen this year.