Directed by Mark Bousfield
Starring Bruce Lawrence, Joe Sowerbutts & Charlotte Mounter
Short film review by Sarah Smeaton
Ghost Nets sets itself up to be a really fresh, indie film. What follows didn’t leave me feeling so satisfied.
The best part about this film has to be the breathtakingly fantastic shots of English coastline. The dramatic cliffs of Joss Bay in Kent provide the perfect ambience for this film. Literally on the edge of the world as they know it, the characters confess untold hidden truths, discover dark recesses of themselves and find themselves thrown into a world of immense repercussions from one small find.
For me the plot here tries to accomplish too much for one short film. Attempting to tackle years of what appears close to hatred between two brothers in just two days, and what is effectively under thirty minutes of screen time, was always going to be a difficult challenge. The audience is expected to buy into their relationship as it stands, which is standoffish from both sides. It’s evident that older brother, Jack, (played by Bruce Lawrence) holds a massive grudge against younger, bookworm brother Neal (Joe Sowerbutts). What we have reuniting them, though, is the death of their father and they’ve embarked on a surfing trip with Jack’s partner Matilda (Charlotte Mounter) camping on a secluded and deserted section of beach. Not only do we have a dysfunctional fraternal relationship to get to the bottom of, we also have the heart of the plot, which is essentially a thriller.
Unfortunately, though, the believability that surrounds the very first event, which creates the snowball effect of all the characters’ demises, is very hard to buy into. The only real answer being that Neal truly is the eccentric, kooky person Jack sees him as being, because if I found a severed hand on the beach I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be picking it up and putting it in my bag. This plot is not ground-breaking in direction either, where the main focus is them discovering a mysterious suitcase of money (after Neal’s found the hand). Unfortunately this has of course been done many times before…and better. I’ll say one word…Fargo. So what we have is a few different subplots to take this in a different direction, which perhaps could have worked if we’d had more time to explore such serious themes. But we don’t, and as such the touching on themes such as abuse just feels a little rushed, and left me unable to truly empathise with any of the characters.
Mark Bousfield has very nicely directed this film, the shots are stunning and the syncing of the music at the end by Ruby Warman and the Heavy Weather is simply sublime. I could not, however, get away from the plot often feeling unfinished and rough around the edges, which was a shame as this was set up to be such a beauty of a short film.