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From a Strange Land Short Film Review


Written and Directed by: #CarolineSteinbeis

Short film review by: Brian Penn

From A Strange Land (2021)

How much can we say or do in the space of seven minutes. It’s barely long enough to microwave a bowl of soup; certainly nowhere near enough time to explain the red wedding in Game of Thrones. Imagine how difficult that task becomes when you reduce it to six minutes ten seconds? Without the closing titles that is precisely the amount of time given to this charming piece by Caroline Steinbeis. There’s not even the slightest hint of dialogue; apart from Radio 3 providing the soundtrack in this snapshot of suburbia and its more adventurous residents. But what the devil is it all about?

The archetypal nosy neighbour is Margaret (Deborah Findlay), who presumably lives alone save for the company of a Golden Retriever. She spies a newly arrived family a couple of doors down. Margaret forensically prepares for the first introduction; carefully applying make-up and strategically adjusting her blouse. She picks up a carefully prepared gift and knocks on her new neighbour’s door. However, the family are gloriously oblivious to Margaret’s efforts. Marie (Amanda Abbington) is giggling on the sofa while Jonas (Matthew Needham) chases son Otto (Otto Steinbeis) with a box on his head. Margaret hears the commotion and wanders to the back of the property with predictable results.

The scenario isn’t startling or wildly original but wonderfully executed with a sense of panache. Margaret is a straight laced older woman with the need to brighten a lonely existence. A young family in the neighbourhood arouse curiosity that can’t be controlled. Marie and Jonas are the epitome of a modern couple and a clash of world views is clearly on the horizon. Whilst Amanda Abbington and Matthew Needham are fine in their respective roles its Deborah Findlay that steals the film. Her reactions are a delight as she motors through a range of expressions that barely need a script. We get inquisitive, worried, confused; swiftly followed by shock, outrage and finally relieved amusement. It’s a text book example of how to make an effective short feature; just make sure you don’t blink whilst watching.


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