Directed by: Akshay Padmanaba
Written by: Akshay Padmanaba
Starring: Prithhev Senthilkumar, Jeffrey Nathaniel, Dominic Rocher
Short Film Review by: Chris Olson
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Grau Film Review
Written and directed by Akshay Padmanaba, short film Grau is the debut film from 16mm Productions. Strongly influenced by the work of Martin Scorsese (indeed, there is a quote from the man himself at the film’s beginning), it’s a strong piece of tense filmmaking with excellent visuals, only let down by a melodramatic script and awkward dubbing.
A celebrated crime writer finds himself sat opposite the husband of a woman he’s been sleeping with. The cuckholded man presents the writer with several envelopes in a tense standoff that pays homage to cinematic thrillers.
It’s beautifully filmed and paced - containing some sublime cinematography that will arrest the viewer, engulfing them into the intense atmosphere that Padmanaba elicits. In some of the opening sequences, we are shown the writer in vulnerable positions, such as a slow zoom on his back in the shower. This created a wonderful sense of dread which was important for what was to come in the later cafe scene with the husband.
A beautiful colour palette was chosen for Grau, it’s a short film that just looks masterful.
It’s a shame, then, that the film is let down by a few technicals - such as the poorly dubbed voices which will instantly jolt the viewer out of the experience. The script is also fairly amateur, with some strikingly blunt exposition, as well as some unbelievable dialogue throughout which undermined the characters and their behaviour. For example, the writer seemed very ready to get aggressive towards the husband, even though he was in the wrong and had fallen into the trap. A little more apprehension and worry would have felt more compelling.
What’s terrific about the short film, are the elements left out. As an astute filmmaker, Akshay Padmanaba masterfully leaves the viewer to deduct certain aspects of the plot without showing them. It would have been all too easy to steamroll into a series of gorey exploitative scenes, flashbacks, or other storytelling devices in order to fill in the gaps, but the film avoids them brilliantly.
Had the dialogue been as clever as the filmmaking, then this would have been a sensational movie. As it is, though, it is still a worthy short film to seek out. The movie is available to watch (currently) on YouTube and it is a splendid example of short filmmaking in terms of how to use the form to its full potential, in terms of storytelling, pacing, and how to enroll the viewer’s imagination into your work.