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Talking to the Trees Short film review

Updated: Jul 11, 2021


Directed by: #PhilipBrocklehurst

Starring: #PMThomas

Many skinny trees with lots of branches and leaves surrounds a man half-hidden by the foliage.

Brocklehurst gets straight to the point with the title of his film which he both wrote and directed, creating a narrative about a nameless man (P.M. Thomas) that tries to find company in the trees. If the title didn’t explain the narrative then there would possibly be a lack of understanding of what was playing out on-screen. The entire 4 minutes 40 seconds of film is comprised of shots of the solitary man, silent and expressionless, staring into a group of leafy trees at the side of a road. His voiceover is eerie, as expressionless as his face, explaining in abstract and vague terms that he is lonely. The trees respond by rustling, the camera tracking across the vast green surface from a midshot that doesn’t delve into the flora enough considering the personal subject matter and the character’s desire to connect.

The technical restrictions clearly impacted the film, as the shaky phone camera doesn’t explore the trees clearly enough, and the automatic lighting changes due to the phone’s movement acted as a distraction to the shot. Cars were in the background, taking away from the human-nature interpersonal connection happening in the narrative.

Although these could be considered ‘technical issues’ or restrictions due to setting and equipment to hand, they do add an effect to the film that can be seen as an addition and not a loss. The sound of trees whistling that accompanies the voiceover is incredibly atmospheric, and the eerie noises coupled with the voice of a lonely man that is clearly in a state of hopelessness creates an atmosphere that is very memorable. The crackling of the audio that is possibly from the phone and not the sound effect actually contributes to the feeling that sucks you in to the man’s despair.

The pauses in his speaking are done at time’s that feel right considering the ambience. Whilst on first watch one might not understand exactly what’s going on, the short film does work as an abstract piece of thought-processing between mental solitude and a desire for companionship that cannot be sought out in human beings. Talking to Trees puts the ‘nature’ in human nature, possibly not wanting the viewer to overthink what’s happening on-screen and instead just wanting to show a little insight into loneliness.

Some shots were jarring, such as the shaky up and down movement as the cameraman walks along; this distorts the trees, and it’s difficult to decide whether this distortion adds to the oddness or acts as a visual distraction to the story unfolding.

This film is impressionable due to the feeling it achieves, but the lack of straightforward understanding as to what’s happening may be its downfall. There is definitely a talent within this film and within the director, but perhaps that talent could not be expanded upon enough in this short amount of time and with technical restrictions that didn’t compliment the story.



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