Just Today short film review

★★★★

Directed by: #AislinnBelot

Written by: #AislinnBelot

Starring: #VanessaMayDolphin, #GraceEden, #JulieSpeers

Film Review by: #DarrenTilby



Aislinn Belot’s debut short film is a hard-hitting examination of working-class motherhood, of escapism versus reality, and of the good times versus the bad. But more importantly, it delves into the special bond shared between mothers and daughters; who can brighten even the darkest of days.


Tressa (Julie Speers,) a working-class, single mother, takes a day off work to spend time with her young daughter, Molly (Grace Eden). This rare day off of mother-daughter bonding is just what Tressa needs. And through it, she's able to—albeit temporarily—escape her less than desirable situation. But Tressa's unfortunate circumstances are never far away; and prove difficult to escape.


When it comes to certain films, chemistry can be just as important, if not more important than individual performances. Just Today is one of these films. That’s not to say the individual performances here are lacking in any way. On the contrary, they are all rather splendid. But it does mean that if the connection between the characters—in this case, the mother and daughter—isn't right, then the film won't work. It's fortunate then that the chemistry between Julie Speers and Grace Eden is not only strong but completely believable. The superb individual performances (particularly that of young Grace Eden, who clearly has a very bright future in acting) are merely the icing on the cake.


The film is resplendent in cinematic beauty, and full of heart. There's a lot I could talk about. But I’d like, instead, to focus on one scene in particular. The very last scene, in fact. The most important scene and the one that tells you all you need to know about this film. It’s a scene which has really stuck with me. And I imagine, will stick with me for quite some time.


It takes place at the end of the mother and daughter’s day together and sees them both sat alone in their bedrooms. We see a dull, pale blue light enveloping Tressa, then we cut to Molly, who is bathed in a bright and warm orange glow. The juxtaposition of these two images, one after the other, has clear symbolic meaning. Molly is Tressa's ray of light in her otherwise drab and unpleasant existence. An existence that reveals just how unpleasant it is shortly thereafter as Tressa undresses; revealing she is the victim of domestic violence.


Moreover, the fact the composition of either scene seemed to stay largely unchanged as it switched from Tressa to Molly, seemed to me that, perhaps, the film was suggesting Molly might be bound for the same problematic existence as her mother. As though Tressa's problems may be inherited by her daughter.


It's a heart-breaking thought and makes for a sobering end to an already melancholic set up. But there's also much happiness and beauty to be found in Just Today. Thanks to some excellent writing and brilliantly layered direction, there is so much to take away from this film. A fantastic cast, brilliant script and poignant storytelling. If this debut piece is anything to go by, Aislinn Belot could be looking at a very promising career in filmmaking.