Written and Directed by Dan Gage
Starring Paul Barber and Paul Casar
Short Film Review by Hannah Sayer
Trainchaser Films’ new short Souls marks Dan Gage’s debut into short form drama as both writer and director. In this non-dialogue short film which has a running time of only eight minutes, Gage succeeds in creating a moving yet hopeful story which explores love, loss, friendship and the overwhelmingly positive power of human connection.
Barrie, played by Paul Barber, goes to scatter his husband’s ashes at their favourite mountain peak. When he arrives at his destination, he is confronted with the sight of Will, played by Paul Casar, who is about to jump to his death off the cliff edge. What follows is a beautifully shot and poignant interaction as the two sit together and contemplate without saying a word.
At the beginning of Souls a short scene follows Barrie making sandwiches to take with him to the mountain peak. A brief glimpse of a framed photograph of Barrie and his late husband in this scene gives small details of the plot away through imagery rather than the spoken word. By forgoing dialogue in this way to explain details of the plot, Souls becomes more contemplative and poignant. The everyday and the mundane action of these two strangers sharing these sandwiches later on in the short is something so simple yet so human. This captures how powerful human connection can be in moments of sadness and hopelessness.
The film was shot on location in Curbar and Froggatt Edge in Derbyshire and the importance of the vastness and the beauty of the outside world is captured exquisitely through the cinematography. The film explores the importance of place for capturing memories of the past and acting as reminders of people and moments who are gone and no longer with us, yet not forgotten. Souls opens and closes with a shot of the wide open expanse of the mountain peak which further reinforces the powerful importance of place in this film. The isolation and loneliness of these two characters is also compared through showing Barrie alone in his dimly lit house and Will alone in the vast open space on the cliff edge. Hope comes to light and dissolves their loneliness when they meet on the mountain peak and a friendship is formed.
Souls has been successful during its festival run and it became a firm favourite on the LGBTQ festival circuit. The film was nominated for Best British Short at the Iris Prize Film Festival in 2016 where it received a high commendation. This resulted in Souls making the BAFTA long list in 2017. The film and Dan Gage also won the first prize for Best Editing at Flicker’s Rhode Island International Film Festival in 2016. Souls delicately captures a melancholy and hopeful exploration of loss and a celebration of life. Hope and friendship is found even in the worst of times through this beautiful moment shared between these two strangers. There is something extremely powerful about the symbolism surrounding this encounter between Barrie and Will and Souls explores these universal themes which everyone can relate to.
Souls will be available on iTunes from the 4th April. Watch the official movie trailer for Souls below.