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I Was Nobody Short Film Review

★★★★

Directed by: #AdamHodge

Written by: #AdamHodge

 



At some point in our lives, the script flips. Instead of our parents parenting us, we have to step in and care for them. Julia (Danika Golombek) is on the edge of putting her father (Larrs Jackson) into a home. He rambles on about window twitchers and bugs in his apartment, and his living situation is full of dirt and stench. It's clear that Julia's dear dad can't care for himself anymore – but what if his demented mutterings are true?


Adam Hodge's short film I Was Nobody is initially reminiscent of one of this year's Oscar winners, The Father. In the film's opening moments, it appears that Julia will wrestle with her father's mental health problems. Yet, the plot is never so simple, and the resulting screenplay never follows a linear track. While the relationship between Julia and her father, Paulson, is a touching one - thanks to the strength of the two leads - it's clear that whatever Julia believes to be true is considerably far from the truth.


Julia pours over an inpatient form and fills in her father's details, and Hodge's film suggests immediately that this is going to be a hard-hitting drama that might necessitate a packet of Kleenex. But then the film switches gears and morphs into a thriller, a spy drama and an action movie with a shot of animation piercing through the middle like a bolt of lightning. The viewer is jolted as nothing is as we narratively expect. Paulson's apartment with its dirty plates on the kitchen counter and the black bin bags covering the windows suggests what Julia has confirmed – that her father is in desperate need of medical assistance. But precisely because we are more inclined to believe Julia, the audience is thrown off-kilter when it is revealed Paulson might not be as mad as we are led to believe.


While this film flickers at a wild pace from socio-realist drama to action movie – stopping off to sandwich in an animated sequence - all these genres within such a short film are rather jarring. Paulson flicks through his memories in a superhero comic-style animation, and it might be the best part of the film. However, it slices the film crudely and awkwardly open, and it's glaringly obvious that this section is one of the strongest within the short. The accompanying soundtrack is also similarly jarring. The music directs you how to think, how to feel and what to anticipate in every second of the runtime. A score of silence sends more shivers down my spine than three hours of loud and repurposed beats.


I was Nobody twists and turns like a deadly car chase, and with the speed of a bullet unleashed from a gun's chamber. This is a fierce action ride with the central relationship between a father and daughter successfully anchoring it to a realistic family drama. Despite the predictable score, I Was Nobody flinches away from being pigeonholed and defies genre expectations.


 

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