Directed by: #AdamStephenKelly
From the get-go, Adam Stephen Kelly’s Done In is visual poetry.
Each carefully composed shot lingers in the frame, perfectly establishing the slow, meditative tone of the film. The shots in question include black and white photos and a dying flame; very clearly this is going to be a film about memory and loss, and the bitter loneliness that comes with it. And layered onto this visual poetry is poetry of another kind – verbal. This comes in the form of a letter from our protagonist (although it is not immediately clear to whom, for reasons that become obvious later in the film) as he reflects on memories of his country manor house and the life he shared there with his late wife. His words elicit a sense of nostalgia and demonstrate the pain of losing someone you love. This is brought to life by Guy Henry’s fantastic performance, his coarse yet gentle voice gives the words a deep and genuine sadness, and there is such beauty in the way his crackly tones murmur over soft piano music.
And yet, there’s something off. The eerie empty manor house, complete with big tick-tocking clocks, dim lighting and old timey photos, is something straight out of the gothic imagination of Edgar Allen Poe. And when our protagonist mentions that he sometimes sees his dead wife, one half expects a full-blown ghost story to break out. This isn’t the case, but certainly it is not the beautiful tribute to love and loss as it once seemed, and, without wanting to spoil too much, Done In begins to take a much more sinister turn, culminating in a wonderfully dark ending.
Of course, a more cynical movie critic might take issue with an arguably cliché twist, but I couldn’t help but be won over by the film’s charming use of such a simple structure and its employment of generic conventions, stock characters and settings, and timeless themes.
But ultimately, it is not the narrative that makes Done In, it’s Kelly’s command over tone; throughout the 8 minute runtime, the film walks a delicate tightrope, carefully balancing between nostalgia and sadness and all the while hinting at something much more sinister.
This is to say nothing of Henry’s performance, which is similarly nuanced and delicate and the end result is, well, do yourself a favour and see for yourself, it’s only 8 minutes away.