Directed by Ryan McLoughlin Starring Sophie Barker & Oliver Monaghan
Short film Sammy Can’t Dance blurs the lines between reality and fiction, as Sam struggles to cope after his girlfriend ends their relationship. Directed by Ryan McLoughlin and co-written by McLoughlin and Salar Moorgan, the film shows a dark side to a lonely boy.
The film opens to video footage taken by Sam (Oliver Monaghan) of him and his girlfriend Janice (Sophie Barker); they are happy, affectionate and seem to enjoy each other’s company. Yet the scene cuts to a flat, with Sam huddled on a sofa, clearly, something in the relationship has changed. The story develops to show how Sam deals with this change.
Sam acts tough, shows a lot of attitude and also appears incredibly narcissistic, possibly due to his over privileged life – his father is an actor - and this makes him hard to like. However it is obvious he is very lonely. His father is never seen, and he only talks to him on the phone and Sam shares a similar relationship with his mother. The heartbreak he suffers from his estranged parents and girlfriend makes you realise how damaged he is. Monaghan gives a good performance showing the various personalities Sam seems to have, leaving you unsure which one is real.
The dark cinematography of the short film adds to the solemn nature of the story. Cutting between normal shots of Sam while he watches on TV, and videos he has filmed of himself, we see how the different sides of him emerge. The mixture of footage gives the film a personal touch, as though Sam has filmed everything himself.
The music in Sammy Can’t Dance works alongside the cinematography. The screechy techno and electronic score makes you feel tense while watching the scenes. Intercut with silence and regular sounds of a phone ringing, you slowly learn how to determine what might be real and what is not.
The acting, cinematography and music work well in favour of the film, yet the story still does not quite seem well defined even by the end. Though Sam wanders aimlessly in the movie – and you suppose life in general – the film feels lacking in a satisfying conclusion, and there is slight disappoint the lead up to the ending is a little absent in drama.
Nevertheless, the filmmakers have made an interesting film, exploring the loneliness and sadness of what could happen to a teenager left all alone.