Directed by Matthew Jacobs Morgan
Starring Angela Wynter, Rakie Ayola, Janie Booth, Kate Dickie
Short Film Review by Evie Brudenall
“Short but sweet” is a phrase often deployed, but the use of the sentiment has never been more applicable or potent in the case of Matthew Jacobs Morgan’s short Gracie.
Gracie, an ageing dementia sufferer, dwells on sad and painful memories from her past until one day, her grandson decides to create a happier present for her.
First and foremost, the lead performance given by Angela Wynter as the titular character is a tour de force. Although she is given minimal dialogue, her longing expressions convey a thousand words that are capable of evoking very palpable emotions from the audience. Gracie’s eyes act as a road map to her rich and colourful past as she recollects distant memories and longs to be back home in Jamaica. Wynter is able to take us on a journey of Gracie’s life in a very short amount of time and writer/director Morgan’s touching script allows for heartfelt sympathy for every character.
In just under ten minutes, Morgan also surprisingly orchestrates a completely natural and believable character arc for Gracie’s grandson Aaron, played by Morgan himself. At the beginning of Gracie, Aaron is an uncomfortable young adolescent, uncertain of how to act around, and interact with, his ageing grandmother. He tactlessly presents Gracie with a bouquet of flowers, stating, “Mum told me to bring these”, indicating that his visit was not a selfless act and was prompted by his more thoughtful mother. Aaron is often more engrossed in his mobile phone, but as he watches Gracie dance alone in her room to music that only exists in her head, a spark is ignited in Aaron and he races off to construct a state of bliss for his grandmother. He takes Gracie out of her dull, beige microcosm and transports her to an approximation of her very own paradise and he is redeemed for his previous indifference.
Somehow, Morgan additionally finds time to incorporate flashbacks into the story in a manner that does not feel forced or appropriate but are in service to the enrichment of Gracie’s character. The flashback offers the audience a glimpse of Gracie in her younger days as she displays her fiercely protective mothering instincts whilst simultaneously depicting the hardships and prejudice she would face as Gracie’s neighbour refuses to let her daughter use her bathroom. These small and subtle moments within the narrative contribute to help form the life of Gracie in the audience’s mind.
Unabashedly wearing its heart on its sleeve, Gracie is a film that embraces its sentimentality with the intention of prying tears from the eyes of the audience. With performances this strong, Morgan’s objective has almost certainly been achieved.