Directed by #GaryOBennett
Short Film Review by Jack Bottomley
For all the impressive action and drama that can be created from a big screen motion picture or effects-heavy blockbuster, sometimes it is the smaller stories, the more personal stories, that pack the biggest punch. You can go to alien worlds, head to the frontline of war or go back in time to a difficult era but often the most gruelling, emotional and powerful stories can come from something more familiar than not. And what is more familiar than family? Where some families offer us protection, comfort and consolation, others offer heated arguments, fallout and grief. No family experience is exactly the same but some films can speak to many people regarding such things, and this short from director #GaryOBennett is one which will move and connect with many a viewer.
The story sees two sisters currently living together and as one is planning her upcoming wedding, the other is jobless and reeling from being kicked out by their parents. What follows is a discussion that has been a long time coming and which brings up some very complex feelings and emotions.
Set in just one sitting room (with well lit cinematography and tight editing by #AthenaBoutari) and limited to a cast of just two - #BayleighYoung and #EkinNazDemirok (who both also wrote the screenplay) as sisters Samantha and Alex respectively - The Absence of You is a beautifully told story of a sibling bond surviving through strain. Starting off in a quiet fashion, this 7-minute film (excluding the credits, which make use of #BlueDotSessions’ “Noodle Opus”) wastes not one second of time and soon has your opinions turned, as it speaks up for those of us who have ever felt overshadowed in our own home and/or wronged by how others in the family perceive us.
The dialogue is believable and eventually rather moving, as the links with this family are touched upon and while it is only a partial glimpse into a wider picture (and issue in many families), that glimpse proves thought provoking and ultimately quite touching, as this story shows that love powers through turmoil, and only through communication can our issues ever be solved and our connections be strengthened. The plot centres upon one particular accusation but soon opens up into a lifelong tale of feelings and fears but watching these two sisters go back and forth and ultimately come even closer together makes for a rather affirming and lovely experience. This is a short but sweet story with a great big heart.
The acting is realistic and in centring on the faces of the stars, it opens things up very much more, as Bayleigh Young and Ekin Naz Demirok’s eyes tell the story. It is really a very simple situation but come the poignant revelations, their eyes make all the difference and even in moments of silence, seem to tear up with pain and later joy, as these two women bond better than they clearly have in some time (if ever) through the dialogue and both Young and Demirok deliver excellent (and impressive) performances.
O. Bennett’s film may feel like just one chapter of a much bigger story that we would like to see and hear but it is a chapter you are happy to read through and one that will mean a great deal to many people, particularly siblings and more so sisters. A really brilliant little short about some very big feelings.