Directed by Matthew Steggles
Starring Amy Newton & Andrew Horton
Short Film Review by Monica Jowett
Short period film Ladies First tackles the gender equality issues of 1919 in the form of a young couple whose conversation raises questions and ideas for both of them.
Director Matthew Steggles has created a film that despite its setting of post-World War One is still relevant to modern audiences. The setting for the film, of a soldier meeting his girlfriend, provides the first step to the argument they have and the ending shot reflects the point as well. The film’s leading characters Diana and George played by Amy Newton and Andrew Horton respectively, are enjoyable to watch. They have a readiness and easy chemistry between them, which makes their dialogue natural. As they chat, flirt and play games, you can see that the two are comfortable in each other’s presence.
The theme of gender equality is prevalent in this short film. There are references to political activist Emmeline Pankhurst, as well as the mention of certain phrases often overlooked but are actually employed as being demeaning to women, highlighted in the title ‘Ladies First’. Though the film uses the couple to make the argument playful at times, the underlying issue that Diana brings forth was a huge problem at the time, and still is today. It is refreshing to see George agree with her in some ways, but he still presents the patriarchy of the time.
Along with the simple setting that does not take away the emphasis of the film’s message and themes; the cinematography is humble and sedated. The only bright colours are Diana’s dress and lipstick. Everything else is muted; the whole landscape feels like it is merged together. The film could have been shot anywhere, but the open field feels as though it has given Diana and George the chance to speak more freely to one another.
Even in a short length of time, the film carries its message well. Though not everything might have been said between the two characters, what is left unsaid the audience can still understand, and could lead to conversations off screen.
Ladies First is an interesting and forward thinking film, which explored gender equality, an important issue for today and the time it was set, into forming a well written and performed short film.