Directed by: #FrankHarriman
Written by: Frank Harriman
Cultural differences and confronting our own mortality are the themes at play in Frank Harriman’s short film about a man facing execution in a foreign country. David Taylor portrayed by Jonathan Markwood is a man who after a series of unsuccessful international appeals is to be hanged in a Middle Eastern country. The film chronicles a series of visits David receives in his final hours. Harriman’s script briefly explores various ideas such as the differences between western and eastern cultures as David argues his crime of adultery is not suitable for the punishment he has received. The law is the law argues, Amir Rahimzadeh’s Governor Asfouri with the idea that western ideology is superior to other world views and should be exempt from condemnation. Despite adultery being a sin, David finds his upcoming execution to be a cruel joke and that he should not be punished
Nothing is really given a chance to ruminate though as the shifting characters force David to confront all manner of emotions in short time but the effective cinematography alongside Markwood’s passionate performance make Go With God an intriguing exploration in accepting your own death. Harriman doesn’t delve deep into the question of whether David’s execution is right, no character takes joy or pride in the events occurring as David has the sympathies of the Governor and prison guard. It’s more about the empathy that people share together as David’s visitors consist of someone who sees him as a criminal, someone who sees him as a victim and one who knows him as a friend. It may get a little melodramatic towards the end but Harriman’s direction seems to want to capture the clarity one can receive when accepting the inevitability of death rather than just condemn the morality behind capital punishment.
Confrontation, regret and fear drive David’s behaviour, Markwood frames it through a British bravado like he’s a character stuck in a bind during an action film. Sarcastic, cynical, chain-smoking, trying to claim moral high ground but it's clear that his facade is barely holding on as with each visit, David breaks a little more. Markwood falters in places with some overacting and the script goes for some obvious arguments but David is a sympathetic character as you imagine yourself in that situation. This idea of being punished for something you can’t perceive as a crime is terrifying, to not truly understand why you are going to die and be powerless to stop it. Andrew Rodger’s cinematography isolates the audience inside David’s cell, camera work focusing on close-ups and illuminating sunlight through the window, unable to escape from the reality of his situation. Sound design is a letdown, breaking immersion with sudden cuts and pitch changes harming the performances. It undercuts so much of Harriman wants to achieve.
Despite faults, Go With God is an effective short film from Frank Harriman tapping into subconscious fears and faiths that we all hold about ourselves and the lives we lead.