Directed by Fred Cavender
Written by Lloyd Lewis
Starring Paul Wilson, Bess Davies, Clair Gilmore
Short Film Review by Chris Olson
Dystopian dramas are often a unique cinematic experience, in that they can offer audiences a completely escapist viewing whilst tapping into painfully topical themes without jarring anyone out of the fantasy. Setting your story in an alternative future is a way of at once connecting your audience to the story without alienating them by making it “too real”. Short film The Golden Shore, directed by Fred Cavender and written by Lloyd Lewis, is a stylish and intelligent piece that explores the role of the individual during political strife, something all too familiar.
Paul Wilson plays Professor Theodore, a man retired from his academic life who soon has his peace and tranquility disturbed by the announcement of a visit by the Regional Secretary of the People’s Reformed Government (Bess Davies), a a member of the seemingly new, revolutionary establishment. After stiff introductions are made, the Professor learns that an old poem he wrote called The Golden Shore has been chosen by the newly elected President (not General) to be used as the new national anthem. Dumbstruck by the idea and giving the signs of someone reluctant to be so closely associated with this People’s Reformed Government, our protagonist is quickly admonished by the visitor, who makes it very clear he has no choice in the matter. What ensues is an awkward balance between self preservation and freedom of artistic expression.
Clever and impressively filmed, Cavender proves himself more than capable of delivering a high end drama with a period setting (and fantasy/sci-fi elements) that was reminiscent of the grandeur and intrigue of The Handmaid’s Tale. Shot in black and white with beautiful framing, the short also has a steady pace that allows the viewer to be engulfed by this alternative world without noticing, whilst being aesthetically enriched by the sumptuous visuals. The sound design is well produced, creating a believable landscape of tense scrutiny, especially once the Professor becomes a black sheep amongst the general public.
Wilson’s central performance is excellent, as is Davies as the terrifying government official. The dialogue between the two of them in the sitting room is superb, delivered with intense chemistry and peril throughout. Their characters enjoy a phenomenal tension that directly parallels the sections of society they represent, without becoming cartoonish or vulgar. Clair Gilmore who plays the maid Agnes is also great, offering up a viewpoint of the common person.
It was brilliant to see a story tackle both the political and the creative without failing to deliver a decent plot. The storyline is compelling enough to deserve a watch and has a wonderful final section, but with the added gravitas of the social and cultural commentary The Golden Shore becomes something of a cinematic gem.
Watch the official Movie Trailer for The Golden Shore below...
Or watch short films for free as part of the UK Film Channel and see the full movie below...