Directed by: Richard Miller, #GrantArcher
Written by: #RichardMiller
Cancer creeps up on the best of us. Whether that's a loved one suddenly being diagnosed, yourself, or a movie that has the C-word as the central conflict. Numerous filmmakers have told stories of cancer patients taking up the fight against the dreaded disease (The Fault In Our Stars, My Sister's Keeper) and most with an admirably grounded approach. Few storytellers would dare shy away from the brutal reality of living with cancer and this is no different for directors Richard Miller and Grant Archer with their short film Can't Hide It.
Esther McAuley plays Kim, whom we meet at the beginning of the movie putting on a baggy Christmas jumper. This and the title of the piece would make some viewers (definitely not this one who was totally not taken by surprise) think that we are dealing with an unwanted pregnancy narrative. It's not long before we are shown that Kim's troubles are much different, attending a hospital session with her partner (Gavin Fowler) where even the Jenga can't distract her from the horrors she's about to face. As the pair tackle each step together, a bittersweet atmosphere of romance and tragedy fill the screen.
Masterfully controlled, almost tactile #filmmaking here, Can't Hide It is as close to joining someone's cancer fight as you can get.
It's no holds barred, sombre, loaded with heartbreaking moments yet still cheekily funny and at times even joyous. The relationship between the two central characters is beautifully handled, each devoted to the other in a warming, sarcastic manner. The performances from McAuley and Fowler depict the wondrous endurance of love, with each actor terrifically coping with the highs and lows that the plot demands.
The aesthetic is intimate and at times gloomy, the perfect setting for such a story. We see Kim losing her hair in the shower or throwing up in the toilet as if we are a floating head on her shoulder. All this creates an important impact on the audience which is to fully immerse themselves into the plight of the character in an almost palpable way. Editing is used cleverly to highlight the chaos that ensues when your mundane life becomes mixed up with a life-threatening illnesses. Kim's attempts at going through the motions at social gatherings seems punctuated by unaware characters whose intrusions feel almost villainous.
Smartly assembled and gut-punchingly authentic, Can't Hide It deserves the same level of commendable praise as the best of the cancer genre movies. This is tragedy at is most heartwarming and a definitive short film for 2019.