Produced and Directed by Dermot Daly and Ivan Mack
Written by Dermot Daly
Starring Mark Catley, Everal Walsh
Short Film Review by Euan Franklin
We’ve all wondered about it. If I won the lottery, what would I do? What would I buy? Where would I go? It’s presented as an easy yet improbable solution to all of life’s problems. But this isn’t exactly the case for the hero of Ivan Mack and Dermot Daly’s contemplative short film It Wouldn’t Change Me.
Adam (Mark Catley) is a disliked office-worker desiring some form of social interaction with his work colleagues. But they don’t talk to him, and he’s too shy to approach them. It’s almost as if he isn’t there – an invisible presence, doomed to be ignored. When Adam sits at home in front of the TV, the lottery numbers are read out. He takes out his ticket. He’s won. His life is going to change forever – or is it?
It’s often difficult for short films to adhere to traditional structures, since the narrative has to unfold in such a small space. It’s easy to pick out the clueless filmmakers because the structure hasn’t been considered enough. They often struggle with basic Beginnings, Middles and Ends, drowning us in the thoughtlessness. However, It Wouldn’t Change Me reaches close to perfect in its attention to narrative order. Mack and Daly know what they’re doing. Adam is a well-developed character and Catley’s minimalistic performance creates an alluring and enigmatic presence, despite having nothing to say. He’s not loud among the quiet, he’s quiet among the loud. Many questions about Adam arise by the time the credits role: why does he still work at his job after winning the lottery? why doesn’t he splash out on fast cars and loose women? why hasn’t he told anybody?
However, I did feel like the film should’ve been more fun in the Middle. The key message of the film is that money doesn’t change you as a person, but other films with similar plotlines benefit from vice or excess because it conflicts with the hero’s true self. The furthest Adam goes is purchasing a new jacket and a new pair of sunglasses – it’s hardly an exciting transition. We jump from miserable to miserable and rich, with no indulgence in the middle.
Danny Marwood’s cinematography is bluntly composed, not using more than one shot for each scene. There are some overwhelmingly grey exteriors that were too flat and dark, and these amateur slip-ups are made even more noticeable when rivalled with the more refined interior shots. In spite of the imperfect exteriors, Mack and Daly have found atmospheric locations in which to shoot – counterbalancing the dullness of the cinematography. It even, I daresay, imitates a European style of filmmaking.
It Wouldn’t Change Me is a quiet short with big things to say. There is barely any dialogue, so Adam’s thoughts and feelings are locked inside himself – left for us to decipher. It addresses unsettling realities about whether the lottery is a solution to anything. Even if life’s problems were to suddenly disappear, it still wouldn’t change who that person really is. They’d still have to deal with those problems regardless.