Directed and Written by #LeonLopez
Short Film Review by Jack Bottomley
As confusion and uncertainty are becoming a constant in many of our lives and the coronavirus pandemic continues to dominate the year and destroy so much we hold dear, a wave of filmmakers are using this time not just constructively but meaningfully. This is an issue that has affected us all in varied ways and so many voices are already emerging from the shadows with a hopeful word of comfort but if “Hey Google” is any indication of the films that will inevitably tackle the COVID-19 era of our world, then we can indeed anticipate a future of emotionally shattering work. For director and writer #LeonLopez’s film is an absolutely astonishing story of isolation, the horror of loss and the toll of survival.
Set entirely in an apartment in Leeds, this film was inspired by real lockdown and isolation stories, and sees young man Nader (#SaeedFarhat) living out the same routines on his own but we soon find that things were not always this way and discover the devastating effects this virus has had on Nader and those he cares for the very most. Told from a LGBTQ+ perspective, this wonderful film is a universal story of what it is to lose and the hopelessness that follows, but also a consoling voice that suggests why it is vital to stay strong and to stay alive.
From the early moments of the film - and from its very title - you initially think this may be a Her-esque tale of people’s connection to technology but instead technology here is a comfort more than it is a cure. The real cure can be found in love. Love is a double edged sword sometimes, in that it can weaken you and leave you in a scary place when all goes wrong but it can also be the most powerful feeling and driving force to continue. This poignant and beautifully human story certainly captures the true essence of love and more importantly love at a time when it is so important to have someone in your life.
Excellently shot, with great cinematography that makes perfect use of the everyday and is accompanied by profound music from #TomFletcher, “Hey Google” is a highly impressive achievement. The confined apartment setting is far from grim but the grimness comes from the reality that seeps in through TV news, radio or even memories of that which has been taken. However, in the final scene of this film we see that such memories are in fact not grim but a salvation. They are a beacon guiding us forward in the harshest of times, sometimes reality well and truly sucks but we cannot change it, all we can do is do our utmost to care for what (and who) we have and do those that we don’t anymore the honour of walking forward in the toughest of times, honouring their memory and strength by doing so.
Saeed Farhat is tremendous in the lead and he makes these messages all the more impactful, with an emotional performance that will speak to the souls of so many viewers. He is so strong and yet so in pain, with only the voice of his Google device keeping him company but as the film shows, he will never really be alone thanks to the love he has experienced. Lopez also has a fantastic audio part to play in the film as character Sam, and the connection between these two characters will just grasp your heart.
“Hey Google” is a powerful and moving story that will mean so much to so many and it is a superbly shot and crafted film, that slowly unfolds, using its concept and quarantine setting with deft deploy. Absolutely incredible and utterly moving.