★★★ Directed by: Earl Clive Dacal, Gio Karlo Birondo Written by: Gio Karlo Birondo, Earl Clive Dacal Starring: Kimberly Mar Barcena, Earl Clive Dacal, Marienne Uyangurin Short Film Review by: Evie Brudenall
On My Shoes follows two stories of two teenagers who are experiencing two very different types of issues. Britney (Marienne Uyangurin) is left puzzled after receiving a very odd and disturbing package and sets out to find who is responsible. Meanwhile, Luther (Earl Clive Dacal) struggles with an inner turmoil after an incident that leaves him questioning his will to live.
The film begins with a young woman – who we later identify as Britney – frantically running through the streets. She constantly glances back over her shoulder as she is being pursued by an unknown assailant. Britney cries out for help but her pleas are met with a resounding silence. The shaky cam style that cinematographer Alvin John Panuayan adopts emphasises the sense of urgency and the atmospheric lighting scheme enhances the danger Britney faces. These visual choices successfully immerse the audience in the story’s verisimilitude. This sequence is frequently intercut with images of a young man (who we’ll learn to be Luther) walking despondently over a bridge. He watches as the cars zip past and he tentatively climbs over the railings and seemingly prepares to jump. We then flashback to the incidents that led these characters to their respective moments and On My Shoes has our attention gripped.
Britney, a stereotypical popular girl, is gifted a box. She automatically assumes that it’s a gift from one of her admirers. However, her curiosity and excitement soon turns to distress when she opens the box to find cutout pictures of her face. Her teacher begins to interrogate her classmates to unearth who is the culprit behind the cruel prank – but all of them deny the accusations, insisting they are completely blameless. Amidst the drama, Luther’s storyline gets lost in translation. The two narratives don’t interweave and are separately distinct, and whilst the director attempts to balance them and give them equal weight, both end up suffering under the strain. Neither are explored to their full potential and the themes and messages that I’m sure lie within each strand of the narrative never hit home.
Arguably, this is due to the editing which is often jarring and creates for an even more confusing and uneven switch between storylines as we follow Britney’s unfolding mystery and Luther’s teenage trauma. The actors portraying the two protagonists try and muster as much emotion as they can into their performances, but the sparse script partnered with clunky dialogue never allows them to reach the emotional depths required to make On My Shoes a truly compelling short.
Although On My Shoes boasts an ambitious attempt at non-linear narrative and multi-character story arcs, these ideas unfortunately never come to cohesion and the end result is a stilted but well-intentioned short.