Written & Directed by Callum Rhys Starring Luke Goddard, Ross O'Hennessy, Aaron Jeffcoate, Jonas Daniel Alexander, Willem Ward & Mark Anthony Games Short Film Review by Chris Olson
Few topics have been covered as extensively as World War II, in terms of art, film and literature. The conflict resonates profoundly in popular culture, where its place is cemented amongst modern ideas on warfare and morality. Short film Our Father, written and directed by Callum Rhys, takes a heartfelt and poignant look at the human cost with an intimately personal approach, that is familiar and yet moving. Beginning in the picturesque fields of Normandy, Private Cole (Luke Goddard) and his Sergeant Browning (Ross O'Hennessy) discuss the baffling nature of life, how one day they can be living simple lives in England, to one day walking around France with guns on their shoulders and death on their conscience. Whilst their enviable surroundings are an unspoilt setting, the reality of warfare soon catches up when their troop are ambushed in a violent and tragic clash with enemy combatants. From a story point of view, there is nothing hugely innovative about Our Father. It is a journey that has been done in films and TV shows countless times, some better and some worse. Something like Band of Brothers came to mind quickly, which is not a bad comparison at all. The themes of PTSD, and the philosophical debates around passivism, which are loosely present are also pretty common in cinema. However, the strength of Rhys's film lies not in what it's saying, but in how it is saying it. For a short film of around a 15-minute running time, the film delivers a massive amount of pathos and character building, in a manner which is instantly immersive for the audience. There is a rich, emotional depth to the characters which can only be created by a filmmaker with a strong talent for storytelling. Given Rhys directs and writes here, is proof of considerable skills.
Watch the official Movie Trailer for Our Father above.
This depth is then enhanced by an aesthetic which is totally in tune with the nature of the story and themes. There is a focus on brightness and natural light during the bulk of the scenes which is a vast contrast to many war films. Indeed, there are only a couple of moments which could be termed “gritty”. The original music from Zachary Start is one of the highlights of Our Father, delivering an elegant and achingly touching score that sumptuously highlights the humanity of the scenes whilst revealing the emotional core that is devastating to behold. The sound editing in general was really affecting, especially during one scene where Cole is left in a state of confusion by mortar fire with deadening silence.
Audiences will thoroughly enjoying the performances of Our Father. The chemistry between Goddard and O’Hennessy is absolutely spot on, capturing the brothers-in-arms camaraderie as well as the strangers in a foreign land nature of their unlikely friendship. Much like the aforementioned show, Band of Brothers, the characters in this short film are built with a craftsmanship that makes them a sturdy foundation for everything else that comes.
Overall an impressive war film, with a beautiful emotional core. A film wading straight into a busy genre that plants its own worthy flag which, whilst bearing the insignia of those that came before, has a commendable amount of confidence and skill to stand with the greats.