Directed by John McGovern Starring Tim Casey & Eileen Fennel Short Film Review by Lorenzo Lombardi
Contemporary black and white shorts come and go. Their usage of this is generally because of atmospheres it can exude, but most of the time, filmmakers’ decisions to use the filter is typically superficial. Harry Stands Up, however, uses black and white perfectly by both creating crisp visuals, forming a dark atmosphere and giving an expression of the main character’s world.
Harry Stands Up focuses on the titular character. He spends most of his days watching vintage cartoons. One day, a bird flies in, bringing light into the monotonous day. Harry then decides to stand up from his chair and attract the bird to his house.
The short is made up of moments that can be pieced together by the audience. This is because of a premise that explains nothing about the story, characters and intentions. Viewers will question why Harry is in his isolated state, but some of these can be interpreted with a clever inclusion of another character - his offscreen mum, Mary (Eileen Fennel). Her dialogue hints at a bleak past that adds some depth to how the short unfolds.
As mentioned earlier, the usage of black and white is realised. Maybe the colours parallel how engrossed Harry has become in the cartoons? The black and white also serves as a stark reminder of how eerie the short becomes. This is all accomplished even further by Peadar O’Briain’s well-shot cinematography. Focusing on certain objects makes you pay attention to the importance of them.
Tim Casey delivers an effectively bizarre performance as the lead. He evokes different feelings about the character through uneasy facial expressions and a sense of innocence, all until the twisted ending.
Director John McGovern has crafted a curiously fascinating and watchable short that does not sugar coat anything. It also contains a memorable performance that will both disturb and amuse. Best of all, Harry Stands Up leaves most of the ‘why’ to the wonder of its audience.