Directed by: #MatthewRFord
Written by: Matthew R. Ford
Safely to Shore movie review
Emotive and brimming with tension, #filmmaker Matthew R. Ford's short film Safely to Shore is a dramatic and violent exploration of abuse. The storyline combines hard hitting drama with a thriller pace and some supernatural influences.
Sharni Tapako-Brown plays Matylda, a self-harming prostitute whose abominable situation sees her at the mercy of a brutal pimp (Andy Chaplin). Her only solace seems to come from a caring client (Chris McQuire). Another, unnamed woman (Maya Szlachetko) awakes deep in the woods to be found by a mystified married couple (Greg Hobbs and Therese Collins) and baffles the hell out of them with bizarre behaviour and a strange object. What ensues is a collision of these two women's worlds.
A complex power struggle exists for each of the main female characters in this story. Their lives seem to be shaped and dictated by the actions and needs of men; from Matylda's aggressive pimp or even her nice client who convinces her to rebel, to the mysterious woman's saviour in the woods who happens to be a man. The imbalance of male protection and threat is a palpable theme.
Whilst the atmosphere curated by Ford as a director is immersively tense and compelling, the story trips itself up numerous times and perhaps tries to do too much. The narrative could easily have filled a feature length piece and may have accommodated more clarity for the audience, rather than a short film format that felt slightly overstuffed.
The performances are strong, even with a few moments a clunky dialogue. Tapako-Brown is fierce to watch on screen and she copes well with the physical demands of certain scenes, such as the self-harming sequences or violence with her pimp. Chris McQuire is also splendid to watch, in particular his chemistry with Tapako-Brown as their relationship grows and mutates.
Safely to Shore utilises some visual flair to dress the movie with minor successes. The black screen moment where the two main characters chat is cleverly delivered is a little indulgent. The use of darkness is intelligent, too, creating a sense of foreboding for Matylda with the night scenes and a sense of escape for the unnamed girl who we see more in the daytime.
A strong outing from filmmaker Matthew R. Ford, Safely to Shore grapples well with heavy themes and a dark narrative. Had the storyline been given more breathing room a more controlled outcome may have been achieved but what's here is still compelling and moving in the right places.