Directed by: Zach Halfter
Starring: David PB Stephens, Oise Ohiwerei, Timothy J. Cox, Alvin Haywood, Yasmin Ozcah, Shannon Costigan, and Stephen Pavlics
Short Film Review by: Niall Maggs
Solutions is a short film written by Stephen Pavlics and directed by Zach Halfter, and tells the story of a father and son relationship in the characters of Derek Price (David PB Stephens) and Damon Price (Oise Ohiwerei). It details the connection between both characters, and Damon's rise into an unknown and mysterious business led by his father.
The acting from both Stephens and Ohiwerei was terrific; their chemistry really shows throughout the minimal 20-minute runtime. A scene in particular which comes to mind is their conversation in a car. Both actors handled it excellently, and there was never a point where their acting dropped in quality or lost its shine. In fact, there were times when I felt like I was watching a full-length feature film due to the exceptional performances, not just coming from Stephens and Ohiwerei, but from the rest of the cast as well!
The short film works as a dual protagonist - or antagonist, depending on which way you interpret it - style of movie, as both father and son are at the forefront of this movie. The father, Derek, is quite a shifty character, which reflects his career choice, and you never quite know what's on his mind. Whether he wants to kill you, or kiss you is completely unknown! He can appear quite menacing at times and it only works because of Stephens' performance.
There is also humour which creates a back drop for the grim yet comedic plot, and the humour is never overdone and it feels natural and flows effortlessly. The script, written by Stephen Pavlics, contains realistic dialogue which feels like genuine conversation coming from genuine characters, and therefore, Solutions feels pure, natural and, of course, genuine!
The character of Damon (the son) could have been explored more thoroughly as we know little of him. This works quite effectively with the father because he's portrayed as this tough, arrogant badass who needs no real introduction, however the son is a lot more innocent and harmless, and the film would've benefited from exploring this character's background a little more. As an audience member, I want to know about the character which the spotlight is on, and if I don't know anything about him, then I can't relate with him, and he can't resonate with me. This means there is no connection between the audience and the lead character; then we can't feel threatened by or anxious for our hero (or anti-hero), so there are very few stakes within the film that create an effect.
However, the tension in Solutions is done effortlessly. When I say that the film is 'nail-biting' I seriously mean it! The background score really impacts it for the better.
Overall, Solutions would work excellently as a feature length film; I was desperate to see more. The characters are interesting, even if a little one-dimensional, but the storyline was intriguing, the acting was excellent in all areas, and the script was exceptional.