Updated: Jul 17, 2020
Directed by: #JeremyWestrate
With Hangman you find a simple idea, executed so successfully that it appears more detailed than it truly is, providing the audience with a deeper meaning than what appears on the face of it. A musician at the turning point of his career is seen grappling with the decision and possible consequences of playing a catchy, crowd-pleasing song, or playing what his heart actually feels. The pain Jackson Cross feels is not expressed in cheesy dialogue or heart wrenching moments of confiding, but through musical expression with a powerful and dramatic score which features some original work. The score is the driving force behind this short film and is employed and effected to near perfection.
Hangman has very limited dialogue. Having said this, it doesn’t need it. The frontrunner here is the score, the dialogue simply assists and even then, it is overwhelmed by the score. The lyrics are all that is required to demonstrate the emotions pervasive in this film.
The lack of actual speech forces the actors to do more acting as they have no script to rely or fall back on so their expressions have to be near perfect. This is especially evident in the scene following Jackson’s walking into the room to Jolene. The passion is plain to see without the use of dialogue and the hurt is so intensely evident that no words could convey it in the same way. J.T. Brown and Julie Anna Cole are both excellent in their roles. Brown carries an intensity throughout the film which demonstrates to us the pain he is in without being given a reason. There is a melancholic aura that Brown gives Cross that is emphatic in displaying his demeanour. Brown steals the show, yet both performances are commendable.
The acting can only be as successful as the direction as far as I’m concerned. Therefore, given the stellar performances from Julie Anna Cole and J.T. Brown in particular, I can only conclude that Jeremy Westrate deserves commendation for his direction of this film. Furthermore, as a co-writer, he decided to lean away from extensive dialogue and turned his focus towards the score, allowing the music to be the heart of this picture. By doing this, he has made a powerful and musically eloquent film that avoids the pitfalls of overusing dialogue and placed his faith in the acting prowess of his stars.
The sequences in this film have been edited wonderfully, early on Jackson’s flashbacks are edited to flow seamlessly, creating a sense of being with Jackson through these thoughts, as a result of the successful editing, the film in its entirety runs without a hitch.
There is very little to fault in Hangman. The message is clear, the deliberating of a dilemma and all that may entail, the ideas of possible regret, necessity and staying true to how you feel are all prevalent in this powerful short film which acts as a brief, yet forceful portrayal of internal struggle.