Directed by: #JosephArcher
Written by: #JackPrice
Director Joseph Archer's short film, Solvi, identifies itself as being for Game of Thrones fans. And while I understand the reasoning behind this, I do feel It's shooting itself in the foot with this particular comparison. Game of Thrones is known, and loved, for its intricate levels of political intrigue, cutthroat power plays and brutal violence. Solvi doesn't have that. But then how could it? At only 17-minutes in length, it's impossible to create the sort of depth required. However, what it does have is rather good.
Solvi (Sarah Lott), a Danish warrior living in Saxon England, tries to convince her fellow villagers to flee an imminent Viking raid, asserting they aren't prepared. The Anglo-Saxon Christians, however, won't hear of it - they believe that God will save them. But when the village priest turns up dead, issues of religion and politics, clashing cultures and the villager's internal paranoias, get in the way of good sense. Leaving them divided and utterly defenceless to the looming threat.
There are a few issues we need to address here. Firstly, there's a distinct lack of character given to the supporting cast. Sarah Lott as Solvi and Harry Duff-Walker as Asmund put in excellent performances, but they're really the only two given any sort of time to develop and shine. Most others are just kind of...there. Secondly, the film plays like a thriller; a whodunnit in Saxon times. And, to its credit, it does an admirable job. But it fails to reach the levels of intrigue it should be due to the lack of time and attention given to other aspects of the movie (mainly the characters and the politics surrounding them). There are really only two possibilities for who the murderer is here, and it's not difficult to figure out.
These issues can be traced to one common denominator: the movie simply needed to be longer. Easier said than done, I know, but 17-minutes just isn't long enough to do this genre of film justice. However, Solvi excels in the attention to detail in its costumes, props, largely period-accurate hairstyling and fantastic use of location - a brilliantly recreated Saxon village. It's truly an impressive feat, everything looks and feels so authentic. But what I really loved was the movie's underlying message. It reminded me (of all things) of Night of the Living Dead. The implications it makes of man's inability to cooperate leading to our downfall is undoubtedly very similar to that of George A. Romero's zombie classic.
All-in-all, and despite its problems, there's a lot of enjoyment to be had during Solvi's, albeit too short, 17-minute runtime. Just as long as you don't go in expecting too much.