Directed by: Nic Barker Starring: Honor Wolff, Isabelle Ford, Alex Cooper and Kaarin Fairfax Short Film Review by: Chris Olson
A filmmaker known for his social realism and cinematic intimacy, Nic Barker brings another compelling short film to audiences with The Greta Fragments, a movie which is layered with immense storytelling and wonderful performances.
Similar in style and tone to another of his short films, Dead Sharks, Barker embarks on a non-linear character study that aims to express its central protagonist Greta (Honor Wolff) using a variety of snapshot conversations between her and those around her. Whilst some chats are candidly revealing, such as the one with her mate Bec (Isabelle Ford), others are revealing in terms of what she doesn't say, such as her intensely awkward exchange with love interest Jordan (Alex Cooper). Over the course of the movie, the fragments we are presented with start to coalesce into a tapestry of identity that is punctuated with self doubt and insecurity.
Honor Wolff is completely entrancing in the titular role. Her chemistry with all three of the other performers (Kaarin Fairfax playing a maternal role) is palpable and she highlights the acutely emotional state of her character brilliantly with both the dialogue and physicality of her performance. I believe The Greta Fragments is created from improvisation, which makes Wolff’s turn all the more impressive. Likewise Isabelle Ford, who is a tremendous addition to the cast, riffing off Greta's tale of an embarrassing encounter brilliantly and injecting some memorable moments of humour.
The use of a black and white aesthetic is a clever choice here, where the entirety of the short is made up of pieces of Greta's sense of self worth or memory. Having the visual landscape feel intimate to the point of claustrophobia is also essential in cementing the dramatic tension at play and keeping the audience glued to the swirling picture they are meant to be forming about this character. Intense close-ups are used as well as no musical score or extravagant flair that would be distracting.
Exploring the theme of identity in a short film can be a huge challenge. The filmmakers need to get the viewer to care about the central character very quickly in order to then build on the narrative and then execute some form of emotional revelation, either for the character or the audience. Barker does this brilliantly in just 9 minutes and leaves you desperate for more.
Essential viewing for followers of the Barker filmography (which should pretty much be everyone in my opinion) and a serious candidate for my top short films of 2018 list, The Greta Fragments manages to piece together a little bit of pure cinematic genius that is as richly layered as it is completely human.