Directed by: Noah Stratton-Twine
Starring: Mike McKenzie, Daz Martin and John Kinory
Short Film Review by: Annie Vincent
There can’t be many documentaries that track resident genies in their last days before retirement, but if there are, none can be as heart-warming at this, Noah Stratton-Twine’s third film, Cadabra. As a documentary crew follow the ‘genie’ around in these last days, he discusses what it means to be a genie in the modern world, confronts his competition and muses on his life after the lamp.
The documentary makers allow the ‘genie’ to introduce us to his home, a South London park, which he describes as ‘magic, ironically’. Whilst passers-by might recognise him as a resident homeless man, they would be mistaken, as his little tin lamp surely proves ... As people go about their daily lives, he jumps out from bushes and offers them wishes. But, wishes aren’t as good as they used to be, he tells us, and it’s not just the millennials who request meaningless wishes; even the elderly can’t be relied upon to ask for anything worthy. There are competitor genies to fend off each day too: scammers and fraudsters who only grant wishes for a short time before scampering off, but our genie makes sure to handle them when they encroach on his turf.
Whilst the premise of a genie, nearing retirement, having an existential crisis is unusual, Stratton-Twine manages to capture some profound soundbites about life in an amusing and touching way through this character. Worried about retirement, ‘genie’ seems likely to give up, considering there to be nothing after his last day on the job, but his fierce defence of ‘his customers’ and the kindness of a stranger at the end of the film forces him to find his strength and brings him hope and promise for the future.
The scripting is lovely in this film, with the subtle puns delivered bluntly and in earnest by Mike McKenzie; an actor Stratton-Twine has returned to, and with success. The cinematography is quite raw, capturing the autumn scene beautifully and very much reflecting that documentary style. This chosen genre also forces us to view this character’s life as real; without any cynicism the audience whole-heartedly follow the genie’s story, no matter how mad that might sound, and it’s a pleasing watch which leaves a little warm feeling inside.
Cadabra won’t be like anything else you have seen before, but it will bring a little sparkle to your day.
Watch the official movie trailer for Cadabra below...