Directed by: Ben Desmond
Written by: #BenDesmond
Evocative and thoughtfully constructed, filmmaker Ben Desmond's short war film Pitfall is a compelling story of conflict and survival.
Complete with textured filmmaking and excellent pacing, audiences play witness to an enemies becoming friends, or at least humans, parable. Radina Drandova and Ross Tomlinson play soldiers on either side of the war in Belorussia in 1943, the former a partisan combatant, the latter a German soldier. After a bit of a rough and tumble in the woods the pair find themselves in a large pit, wounded, and still ready to do battle with each other. However, the reality of their situation descends upon them as they realise in order to survive they will need the other to as well.
Two strong performances ensure Pitfall doesn't trip itself up. This is an intense, emotional drama that leans heavily on the chemistry of the central characters, so it was imperative that both actors were worthy, which they definitely are. Drandova has a wonderfully wild, almost feral persona, someone desperate to liberate her community from the Germans. Tomlinson is superb as the wet behind the ears type, reluctant to kill his foe but still determined to be a good soldier.
The short film was reminiscent of another excellent war movie called Their War where we saw both sides of the conflict and the universal humanity involved. Desmond applies the same technique here but with more urgency and friction because the characters are in such close quarters. It was great to feel the evolving tension as the nature of this collision of combatants changed as the plot developed. By the end, viewers have completely forgotten that the pair nearly knifed each other in the opening sections of the film.
As with any #warfilm there are a lot of cinematic comparisons that audiences are going to be able to make and this story is most definitely a familiar one. That being said, the tone and atmosphere of the piece feels unique, coupling war motifs with a survival structure and the fact that it's a short that manages to take its time and not spew its plot was impressive.
As a directorial debut, Ben Desmond shows himself to be familiar with and capable of handling cinematic fundamentals. His short film Pitfall is a carefully assembled and wonderfully acted piece of filmmaking that totally captures the violent intimacy of warfare and the humanity that's ever present.
Watch the official movie trailer below.