Directed and Produced by Marianna Dean
Starring Gemma Paget and Justin Aves
Short Film Review by Georgia Wren
Directed by Marianna Dean, In The Park presents the colliding of world views and examines the social assumptions people make about each other every day. Unfortunately the short film comes off as more of a lecture, than a perception altering piece.
Based around working mum Jessica’s (Gemma Paget) moment of crisis, she is “saved” by homeless wordsmith Robin (Justin Aves) who, through the power of his massive worldly intellect, causes her to somehow completely re-evaluate her perspective of others, despite his insults and, frankly, unjustified superior attitude.
At first the film begins by establishing its characters in very clear roles. One of the best aspects of the movie is how instantly we are able to identify Jessica as a high class business woman and the contrast between her costume and Robin’s. The art department have dealt with their characters superbly and both actors very much look the part.
The other immediately striking thing about In The Park is that it boasts some impressive camera work by Dagmar Scheibenreif, exposed very well in an environment that is difficult to control. The opening shots are smooth and controlled and overall the film is wonderfully framed, making lovely use of natural light. Unfortunately, over the rest of the film it doesn’t amount to much when the main view is two actors and a hedge. This concept works in the original text, as a play, however, we do not usually expect an entire film to feel as though it is in “real time”. Because of this, the scenery eventually becomes dull and uninteresting, with a few 30 degree rule breaks.
However, the most problematic part of the film by far is the dialogue which, considering it is most of the plot for this film, contains a startlingly large amount of waffling and unnecessary elements. The conversation and acting are not enough to sustain interest for 20 minutes and because of this any point the film tries to make is buried under over-complicated analogies and weird, unfunny jokes. No one needs to sit and watch an apparently homeless man lecture a woman for 15 minutes continually. It’s unrealistic and overly theatrical.
Delivered in an annoyingly patronising tone, Jessica becomes nothing more than an excuse for Robin to talk about himself and insult her, leaving me baffled as to why at the end she thanks him for solving her problems and bettering her as a person. Just because you choose an alternative lifestyle and don’t subscribe to the rat race to support, say, a family, doesn’t mean you have the right to lecture someone who does. The concept is worn out, and sadly this short does nothing new with it. The whole scenario is so utterly unbelievable that I imagine it was difficult to drag any kind of performance from the actors, who, while hammy, do for the most part deliver the lines like the theatrical stereotypes they portray and do a decent job with the given script.
On the upside, the sound has been well recorded, well mixed and the sound design is great; creating a microcosm around the characters. The music used throughout sets a very light-hearted tone and does work well although occasionally due to the poor lines, it feels dystopian, as though the audience have to be told when to smile and when to frown.
Overall, In The Park is technically really well made, a credit to it’s crew but it means little when the content is weak. It feels like a 10 minute film dragged out to 20 and just emphasises the strange dialogue which becomes tedious to listen to.