Loco (2020) Short Film Review

★★★★★


Directed by: #RoryWilson

Written by: #RoryWilson, #ConnorBolton

Starring: #AndrewSchofield, #ChloeHighamSmith


Short Film Review by: Emily Davison

After a tragic incident on the tracks, train driver Paul (Andrew Schofield) struggles with his trauma in this profound short drama.


Loco (2020) is directed by British/Bermudian filmmaker Rory Wilson, who is currently based in Liverpool where the film was shot. His fifth short film, Loco has already garnered much attention from its screenings at multiple film festivals in the UK and has been selected for this month’s BFI Future Film Festival. In preparing for the making of his film, Wilson researched the topic of trauma and mental health in train drivers, revealing the shocking fact that support funding from the government has been cut to help people who have suffered with PTSD after witnessing horrific incidents during shifts.

Extreme close up on an older man looking down with sad expression; the film's title and credits as well as its awards and nominations at film festivals are listed
Loco (2020) Short Film Poster

Loco is an immensely powerful, vivid film where every movie making element is perfectly aligned to capture the devastating, ‘untold truth’ of what it is really like to be a train driver. Wilson’s stunning cinematography is both immersive and seamless in its direction, with a series of successive shots quickly introducing us to Paul and his daily life, as well as incorporating smooth transition shots between Paul witnessing the tragedy and the aftermath of the harrowing event. The film emphasises the emotional impact of the train driver instead of glamorizing the tragic suicide, relying on the viewer’s imagination to fill in the gaps. Paul’s isolation is demonstrated through him often being framed alone, barely interacting with his colleagues and too traumatised to connect with another human being, making for some effectively hard hitting sequences.


Andrew Schofield’s intense, heartfelt performance is one of the film’s greatest strengths in presenting a grounded, relatable and humane lead. The fragile complexion and nuanced sensitivity Schofield brings to the film is both captivating and heart-breaking as we watch his struggle with coming to terms with his oppressive emotions. His kindness and authenticity elevates the short, brought to fruition by the film’s hopeful ending which encapsulates the compassion of human beings and making for a touching climax to the intensity of what had come before.


Wei Song Lim’s sound design and Jim Sanger’s musical score are also notable highlights of the film. Both complement each other perfectly, with ambient and oppressive pieces combined with the riveting sounds of train wheels screeching on tracks and the crushing silence of being underwater creating a truly stimulating experience. Paul’s inner trauma and difficulties with coping with everything is presented through a synchronous balance between sound and image, working together to result in a gripping viewing experience.


Loco is an intensely powerful short with an insightful, revealing subject matter and benefits from a stunning performance from its lead and captivating filmmaking talent both on and behind the camera. This film is a must see!

#EmilyDavison


Loco screens as part of the BFI Future Film Festival from 18-21 February, free on BFI Player:

https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-loco-2020-online