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Mausoleum - Short Film Review


Written & Directed by: #JamieMilligan

Poster showing a fractured couple sitting at a dining table, eating dinner. The husband seemingly in his own world, whilst the woman has many deep feelings. Bold text at the top of the poster reads 'Mausoleum.'
Poster for Mausoleum

Mausoleum casts Julia Deakin (star of Spaced, Down Terrace and Hot Fuzz) as a woman at her wit's end. When she sits down to dinner with her husband, she realises that time is running out to resolve her mistakes and regain control of her life.

Firstly, this is without a doubt a fantastically written and directed short. Milligan’s choice to capture all of Julia Deakin’s lines in one continuous shot really pays off. As a viewer, you’re forced to use your imagination a little, to read between the lines being said, and examine any and all facial expressions in an effort to construct a full character background. Due to the performance by Deakin, which is masterful, it’s easy to become invested.

With the short film focusing almost entirely on Deakin and her effortless and skilfully delivered monologue, there’s not much emphasis on sound outside of human speech. Yet, the sound team manage to record and create a soft and quiet atmosphere, designed for the lifeless rooms in the couple’s home. Clocks ticking, cars passing by outside, the house breathing. Because it’s so simple, everything clicks together extremely well. There’s an absence of music, and I think in this case it was a good decision to leave it so.

The visuals are stunning. Shot in glorious 35mm film by cinematographer Chris Fergusson, known for his award-winning work in many short films in the past. The way film captures the light is always very warm and welcoming - it seems to always lend a certain charm. Even inside the house - which doesn’t seem to have much of a soul left - the sense of an undamaged personality remains. Though with Mausoleum, there is some coldness. If you glance to the kitchen in the background, it seems brighter than the dining room the characters are currently sitting in. As if the two suck any joy from the area that surrounds them. You could also guess that the reason Deakin’s character is framed within the light from the kitchen, is because she can see a way out of her toxic relationship, whereas Billington is completely in the dark. It could also reflect the notion that none of what she’s saying is being heard by him.

Mausoleum is a very simple but incredibly affective short film. Nominated at several film festivals - and winning at some - it’s clear that audiences agree. Sometimes less is more, and for Mausoleum, that’s definitely the case.



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