Directed by: Sunny Dhillon
Written by: Sunny Dhillon
Starring: Sunny Dhillon, John Hutch, Laila Phillips and Darren Swain
Short Film Review by: Hannah Sayer
Sunny Dhillon’s short film Only God Knows has played across the festival circuit and sees him
take on the roles of writer, director and actor. He plays a once top ranked boxer Dominic Corella who lost his wife and is dangerously close to losing his daughter too. The short film explores many themes, but its handling of religion makes it one to watch.
Only God Knows opens on the aftermath of a fight where Dominic Corella has been defeated. Blurry and shaky camera movements show the disorientated state he is in and the voiceover informs that he is not living up to his past successes as a boxer. The story cuts to his daughter Lucy, played by Laila Phillips, ill in a hospital bed. There is nothing the hospital is able to do to save her and their only option is to seek and pay for treatment in America. He is unable to pay for this treatment and the surmounting pressure coupled with the traumatic events of his past have ended up shaping him and his performance as a boxer has suffered. He still remains determined to fight in the tournament coming up, even though everyone around him believes it is time for him to hang up the gloves. This all leads Dominic to the church where his late wife used to visit, where he talks to Father John, played by John Hutch, all about religion, his past and why his faith has been tested.
Dhillon’s performance as Dominic Corella is extremely layered. Only God Knows becomes a thoughtful and contemplative character study within the scene set in the church between Dominic and Father John, as the discussion between the two characters captures a nuanced portrait of trauma and overcoming adversity. As the short film slowly unravels more and more layers to the character, Dominic becomes more complex and there is more to the role than what is first hinted at from the beginning. The pacing of the short film is well thought out, as not revealing all of Dominic’s past traumas straight away means that this intriguing character study develops intricately over time.
Only God Knows unravels slowly and it is in the quiet moments which the performances really shine, particularly in the aforementioned church scene between Dominic and Father John. The short film manages to explore overarching themes of overcoming trauma, grief and adversity, while also contemplating how religion has an effect, regardless of whether you believe or disbelieve in God.