Directed by: #RobHurtt
Written by: #RobHurtt
ShortFilm Review by: #ChrisBuick
As was the case for masses of children during the troubled times of the Second World War, Ada (Kahn-Thomas) and her brother Pip (Kleboe) have been displaced from their homes and evacuated to the relative safety of the English countryside to escape "the bombings and all the other business what's going on with the nasties and that".
Ada, the self-sufficient older sibling and a real fighter despite her age, is tasked with literally and figuratively keeping her frailer brother on his feet as he struggles with his poor health. Making their way miles and miles from home and carrying nothing but an introductory letter from their mother, they arrive at the house of Mrs and Mrs Love. But they are soon to learn that there are equally horrible places to wait out the conflict.
Mr and Mrs Love does have some well-crafted elements to enjoy. The film presents itself like a dark fairy-tale, complete with a good premise and caricature-like characters that seem somewhat Burton-esque or plucked straight out of a Roald Dahl novel. The claustrophobic and isolated single-setting of the dark and disturbing Love residence, adorned with a plethora of stuffed wild life and weird knick-knacks, imbues a sense of real dread for these children who are essentially imprisoned as they wait hand on food for their horrific hosts. The film also contains minimal dialogue which works well as an important example of show, don’t tell.
The larger than life characters of the almost grotesque Mr and Mrs Love, barking orders and generally entertaining themselves at the children’s expense (mainly Pips), are met with great commitment by Garland and Kelleher, who portray them as ghastly as they should be against the stark contrast of the unfortunate children who may not have as much to do to the titular characters, but hit their marks of helplessness and despair all the same.
The issue here however, is that the film simply never seems to find a defining moment that it needs to really round things off, despite setting itself up with enough tension and momentum to really push the envelope at the end, which is a shame as perhaps an extra drive towards a more dramatic set-piece would have served this film really well and given it the pay-off the hard work in the setup deserved.
While from a filmmaking and acting perspective there is much to be appreciated, it is disappointing that the despite its strong concept, the film never really hits a high point dramatically, instead glimpsing at its potential rather than achieving it. Had it dared to be a bit bolder and braver it might have been something quite special but by the anticlimactic end, you simply find yourself feeling slightly underwhelmed.