Ineffable short film review

★★★★

Directed by: Christopher Deakin

Written by: Christopher Deakin

Starring: Katherine Farquhar, Adam Cryne

Film review by: Joseph Rodgers

Ever had one of those conversations where heavy words lingered in the air for longer than you could bear? Writer-director Christopher Deakin finds a witty and emotionally resonant way of presenting this in Ineffable, a tale of a girl simply trying to tell a guy she still loves him.

We open with a jazz-rock soundtrack and the camera panning through a rainy park, before fading in on the aforementioned girl (Katherine Farquhar) and guy (Adam Cryne) under a shelter, standing by adjacent pillars, half-facing each other. From here, Ineffable’s most novel central feature emerges: speech bubbles and thought clouds are placed into either side of the frame from external hands, to represent what they say to each other, as well as the thoughts that exist between the speech. A picture emerges of an ex-couple, now transitioned into friends, who are seeking to navigate the aftermath of their relationship and the conflicting emotions that still exist.


Cryne and Farquhar complement the speech bubbles with subtle, silent acting. Slight shifts in facial expression, posture and physical gestures give texture to their respective characters: she is mischievous and teasing yet covering lurking feelings, he is self-assured yet slightly brooding. Ineffable manages to conjure an impressively clear picture of what their relationship was like just through small, comical interactions about her swearing and their differing attitudes towards beach holidays.


Ineffable is certainly intriguing in its tone: the music and dialogue style lends itself to a light-hearted comedy sketch, and its overall style does not extend much beyond that. However, there is surprising emotional heft in its approach to this subject matter. Deakin’s script and direction captures many interesting aspects of conversation: the slight differences in our internal and external voices, how our thoughts often seem handed to us from elsewhere, how we have to push ourselves to say the things which will certainly shape our lives for the foreseeable future. The pacing, meanwhile, also skilfully creates suspense and poignancy, through split-second pauses where the girl or guy hesitates, thinks or lets an emotion pass. On the whole, the approach seems trivial to begin with, yet develops into something unexpectedly thought-provoking.

Fate and predetermination are two weighty topics which the girl questions the guy about, in the build-up to her big reveal. By the end, Ineffable presents a final inversion on its speech-bubble device, to complicate the guy’s secure belief in the purposeful directions our lives take. We can’t help but be moved by the film’s lasting observation that, for everything we do say, there are a million other things we could have said instead, many of which could have changed our lives entirely. 


With Ineffable, Christopher Deakin explores the more difficult sides of self-expression; however, it is not hard to say that this short film is charming, deceptively deep and well worth a watch.