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Remembering You short film review

Directed by: #Vera

Written by: Vera


Poster for film 'Remembering You' featuring a close up of Daniel Christian Jones' character John.

“I’m grateful Wendy, that you found me so I could tell this story”

These words were spoken by John, a grieving father who lost his daughter to medical malpractice following an abortion irked me. They come in the final scene of this short film which sees John recount his painful tale to a counsellor; the character speaks as if a great weight has been lifted from him and that he perhaps the next step towards healing. Though the audience can’t feel that with him as it happens; I’m not irked by the content of this story rather I am annoyed in how Remembering You doesn’t present this story. The critical details of his daughter Laina’s life and death are not present, we see her discovery of the pregnancy, her decision to have an abortion and then she’s having a spiritual fireside chat after her medical complications have taken her life.

The bulk, the real emotion to these character’s journeys is absent; we just have bookends and a prayer from the filmmakers that since the subject matter is so potent that we won’t notice. Though that’s all you can notice, this cryptic dialogue on what exactly killed Laina whether it be “septic shock” or “drug companies” doesn’t build tension it just defaults the power of the narrative. Remembering You takes no explicit political or moral stance on abortion rather tries to use this story of Laina and John to highlight how safe reproductive care must be made available to all. The opening of the film bears a subtitle of “inspired by true events” but whatever real-life lessons we’re supposed to take away from this story lack that personal impact.

Writer-director Vera frames the film in a frustrating structure, Daniel Christian Jones opens the film with a narration of John questioning the purpose of life over images of himself walking through sun-soaked fields. Then through an interview with counsellor Wendy and subsequent flashbacks, we get the few pieces of Laina’s story. Despite the film’s semi-biographical origins, I found the direction to be maudlin in its depiction of grief. I enjoyed Samantha Nemeth’s performance as Laina, it felt authentic and would have preferred the narrative focusing on her choices and isolation despite its tragedy. Unfortunately, Remembering You, I feel leans more into melodramatic elements with John’s character and setting, walking through fields a la Gladiator, chopping wood in a plaid shirt and speaking in a thick southern accent. There’s a lack of grounding to Jones' performance despite the vulnerability on display through the film.

Remembering You showcases Laina’s story through her father’s grief and how he chooses to remember her. Though the majority of Laina's scenes aren’t his memories and the clear implication is that John wasn’t present during her abortion and aftermath, that being the driving force of his trauma. So what is the real takeaway from the film? It wants to be a film to highlight critical issues in reproductive health, pregnancy, and abortion without making any strides in showcasing those issues beyond the select memories of a man’s pain. The filmmakers may have the best intentions in what they want this film to be but don’t push themselves to deliver the full picture.



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