★★★★★ Directed by: L. Marcus Williams Starring: Katlin Leslie, Dan Parilis Short Film Review by: Jack Bottomley
Life is difficult. Some of us never know what it will throw at us next and with life being the way it is, all of us need a helping hand sometimes. Be it a supportive friend, a caring family member or an understanding voice on the other end of a telephone. And as mental health awareness is rightly being talked about more than ever in our society, so too are such issues in film. Though in the pursuit of such subject matter, the line between reality and fiction can be very thin and so is the case in L. Marcus Williams’ powerful and tremendously acted short film Lifeline. A short which uses the director’s own experiences to highlight the need to listen and which conveys the strength of those who live a daily struggle battling their own minds and the overpowering darkness.
The short tells the story of a woman (Katlin Leslie) who has decided to take her own life, before doing so she calls a suicide hotline, so that she has somebody to say goodbye to. However, this conversation between the young lady and the helpline operator (Dan Parilis) soon becomes much more than just a final farewell, as he encourages her to keep talking.
ABOVE: Watch the official movie trailer for Lifeline.
Handled with a deep respect and heartfelt intimacy, Lifeline is an incredible short film that captures the difficulty of living with mental health and how strong people who experience it are and have to be. The themes of the film - no doubt fueled by the director’s first hand life experiences - are strong and emotive, as Lifeline raises the point that listening can be the most powerful thing one can do. It really can be the difference between life and death.
As the film progresses, you are drawn into the story and come to love these leads and considering Williams’ decision to focus largely of split-screen intense close-ups of caller and operator, this film bravely sheds complete emphasis on the actors. Thankfully both Katlin Leslie and Dan Parilis are more than up to the task and deliver two fabulous performances that are full of soul. These two characters roles in many senses come to reverse as the line between supporter and sufferer comes to vanish and the film stands as a testament to listening, conversation and compassion. The dialogue between them feels natural and the script is filled with powerful statements on suicide and depression.
Sung Rae Cho’s cinematography is realistic and the black and white visuals are a perfect match for the tone, which lifts come the optimistic and resilient finale. This ending is far from idealistic and is more a case of living to fight another day but when you are at the very edge, this is the first of many victories to follow. Lifeline urges people to never give up this most difficult fight and never give up the discussion, for if we do, more bottles of tablets will be reached for and more lives will fade away needlessly. Victory is possible and is worth fighting for.