Directed by Giacomo Mantovani Starring Dean Roberts, Olivia Marei & Michael Hanratty Short film review by Sarah Smeaton
Stand Up is a short British film that attempts to liberate the viewer into standing up for what they believe in. The opening shots are very bleak as we join a young couple who have been kidnapped and are being tortured by a psychotic policeman. Director, Giacomo Mantovani, has created great amounts of intrigue with the order of events in Stand Up, and that is most certainly to his credit. As a viewer, entering blindly into a storyline where two people are so obviously being punished for some past misdemeanour, will not only have you questioning what events have occurred beforehand to lead to this point, but also have you second-guessing who the real enemy is.
As the plot unfolds, it becomes evident that this is not gang-related crime; it is simply an act of inhumanity against two average citizens, students in fact. Dean Roberts naturally settles into the role of policeman Damien, and provides a very convincing performance throughout. It did, however, feel that Olivia Marei (Sara) and Michael Hanratty (Eric) took a while to get into their roles. It was only in the final scene where I truly started to believe the desperation, anger and drive of these two characters. To have seen this earlier would have created a much more effective piece of work. There are some really emotive scenes early on in this short film. In particular where Eric has to sit idly by while the psychotic cop, Damien, beats his girlfriend in front of him. The scriptwriting appeared to be explicit enough, it’s just a shame this wasn’t brought to life as well as it perhaps could have been in the acting.
What is brilliant about this short film is that it provides a fantastic exploration into how far things could go in a nanny state, where everything is unquestionably controlled by the powers that be. This is a moving story of how two ordinary, everyday people are willing to do whatever it takes to fight for what they believe in. At no stage is it ever referenced as to what these two people are rebelling against or fighting for, which on the one hand provides some great anonymity, meaning you can apply the scenes here to many scenarios in fitting with reality. But on the other hand, knowing no real basis for why these two are so willing to stand up for what they believe in reduces the empathy. Without knowing any background, it’s very hard to identify with any character, and I’m afraid I just didn’t buy into the passion that was trying to be portrayed here. More passion, more background and more plot exploration and I think we have the workings of would could have been a very engaging short film here.