Written & Directed by: #AnastasiyaYevchenko
A soldier is thinking about his family, by opening door after door in his corridor of opportunities but everything we know about him changes with an explosion. Will he have his tomorrow?
Opening with a shot of an open field, covered with dirt, a trench cutting through the clearing. A man sits within that trench, staring into the delicate flame from his lighter, reflecting on memories or fabricated possibilities of past, future or beyond. He is clearly war-torn and thinking up a million ways to cope with his situation, but these dreamy illusions begin to falter after a poetic dance with his love. The man (played by Oleksii Oleksyuk) sees a whole family blossom before his murky eyes as the painful effects of tinnitus flow in as a result of an explosion. His doors of opportunities burning before him, everything foreseen now seemingly straying farther from his grasp.
This is a film that concentrates its time on the helplessness felt within soldiers; the sense of inner defeat. A corrupted personality now only fit for battle, the simple innocence of life gone. You hear tales of soldiers dreaming of being back home when they’re at war, but then wishing to be on the battlefield when with their families because, nothing feels real anymore. At least this is a theme most commonly utilised in war films, so If We Had Tomorrow takes that idea and gives the viewer a soldier’s perspective of that. The way thoughts may creep into the mind of a soldier as they sit in the dirt with chaos all around; we see the journey your mind will take you on if you allow it to, with colourful imagery and sharp framing.
If We Had Tomorrow features a stunning technical sheen; beautiful camerawork though quite subtle, suitably jarring editing for the more twisty moments, and a solid sound mix. A vibrant palette takes your eyes on a trip through memories and possibilities, with an array of fitting music to support these visuals. Oleksyuk’s withdrawn performance maintains a steadying handling of care throughout, and his scenes with Levchenko play off quite well. There’s also a dog. Animals are tricky to direct, so it’s nice to see one so effortlessly integrated into this story, and this dog is tied into the climax in a deeper way than expected.
Though it has a great concept and execution, If We Had Tomorrow leaves more to be desired. Playing more on this idea of flashbacks/flashforwards alongside additional footage of the soldier (and not the man) in his trench, perhaps seeing his slowing, degrading mentality would make for a more interesting film. That would make his character a more layered and perhaps relatable one, which feels like the only thing If We Had Tomorrow lacks in. However, Yevchenko’s direction is fantastic and the final moments leave you wondering with hand to chin.
Watch the trailer for If We Had Tomorrow below.