Directed by Elias Pabon Short Film Review by Annie Vincent
A thoughtful exploration of the commitment and dedication of an athlete, Morales is a polished and professional short film from Elias Pabon.
At the opening of the film, we’re introduced to Daniel Morales; clearly, a dedicated athlete, in the throws of training, which includes meditation on a beach, running even in snow, and hard grafting in the training ring. A flashback sees him competing in a professional ring and losing, before cutting back to his present, where the montage continues increasing in pace, showing his undeterred commitment to his sport, where every waking moment is about the right exercise, the right diet, the right training, the right mindset, as he prepares for his next international competition.
This film is beautifully shot and carries all the hallmarks of a professional fight film. The smooth transition between present and past, coupled with the increased pace of the montages throughout, controls the intensity and impact of the action. The seamless moves between close ups and pan shots during the fight sequences and the subtle use of soundtrack throughout, takes us on the journey of this fighter, who lives and breathes this sport. The action sequences are also very realistic, being sourced from professional fighting clubs: no cheesy Rocky-style knock-out scenes here (though no offence is intended – the Rocky films are iconic for a reason). But, this film is about the reality of competitive sport and that reality is exciting enough.
Sadly, what is lacking is the pace of narrative. It isn’t until Daniel’s post-fight interview that we’re really made aware of the exhausting journey he has been on until this point, and whilst all of the things that made this journey so tough for him were mentioned at points throughout the film, the choice of the short film genre has made that journey seem quick, with just a few bumps in the road. There needed to be more time to develop this uphill journey, and we needed to feel a greater sense of loss in his first competition, to really allow us to really appreciate his achievements at the end (though we do applaud the athlete’s dedication and commitment when we do see it).
Overall, Morales is a well-shot sport film which, in production, choreography and soundtrack is worthy of a place within the genre – it is just a shame the narrative wasn’t given a little more screen time.