Written & Directed by Richard Anthony Dunford
Starring Sarah Hawkins, Jamie Langlands & Miranda Horn
Short Film Review by Taryll Baker
Love is beautiful. Love is cruel. Richard Anthony Dunford’s short film Heartbox tells the story of two unfortunate lovers who bind their love by giving each other their hearts, literally. Featuring a modern interpretation of Christopher Marlowe’s poem ‘The Passionate Shepherd to His Love’ and a wonderful visual shine, Heartbox proves to be a smart and thought-provoking concept.
The three leads (Sarah Hawkins, Jamie Langlands & Miranda Horn) are all suitably invested in the screenplay and showcase true talent through their touching performances. Every scene is accompanied with Marlowe’s poem which becomes a melancholy addition as the film reaches its end. The dialogue is clean and deftly recorded by James Wingfield, mixed and edited acutely, leaving little to dislike about the production aspect.
The story itself tries to demonstrate the damaged, fractured side of love in the 21st century, and while succeeding at that, it seems to lose a sense of connection that we as an audience require in order to truly relate. The final moments are captured beautifully by the director, as is the entire picture as a whole, but the rationalisation is never explained in depth. Although we fail to greatly adhere to the characters, the film itself is nicely shot and performed. Each location feels organic to the story, especially as Marlowe’s poem mentions lush hills and fields, so it’s a coherent insertion that aids the tale superbly.
With short films, the budget can be rather small and while the visual effects are affected by this, they still impress in the film. James Westlake has handled the ‘heart’ scenes carefully, they look and feel tended to. But are they physically there? It’s a question we must ask ourselves after the screen comes to a close.
A moving take on Mozart’s ‘Lacrimosa’ is skilfully performed by Mishkin Fitzgerald and encapsulates the picture in a genuinely felicitous fashion. Music is very much important in film, as much as, or even more than the narrative. It helps us feel attached to something or someone on-screen and Fitzgerald did a grand job in this field.
As I’ve mentioned before many times over, short films are always difficult to execute, but this is easily one of the more enjoyable and visually up-to-the-minute pictures I’ve experienced. Heartbox may be short in duration and slightly too ambitious in its storytelling, but it has a heart.