Directed by Chris Quick
Starring Duncan Airlie James, Amy E. Watson, Steven Patrick, Chris Quick, Andrew O'Donnell, Neil Francis, Euan Cuthbertson
Short film review by Chris Olson
A bleak and funny short film, populated with puppets and people, that offers a sardonic view on the fickleness of life through the end days of an ostrich called Danny McGuire (voiced by Duncan Airlie James), whose unfortunate life circumstances are shadowed by the most depressing season of the year, with tragic results.
With a poetic opening of seasonal musings, The Greyness of Autumn never pitches its tent in any particular genre field. Instead, we are met with a smorgasbord of conflicting emotions that means the audience for this short film never knows whether to laugh, cry or raise an eyebrow. After losing his job and his girlfriend Katie (Amy. E. Watson), our ostrich protagonist attempts to keep his feathers together, leaning on the help of his foul-mouthed monkey roommate Nelson (voiced by Chris Quick, who also directed the film). However, poor Danny quickly learns that in autumn, when it rains it pours, and he quickly sees only one way out.
Given that the plot of the film is so bleak, with a backdrop of recession, puppets seem like a brilliant idea to inject an element of fun into the proceedings. And what is great is that Quick manages to utilise Danny and Nelson without resorting to cartoonish distraction. In fact, Danny’s woeful descent is pretty captivating, and Nelson, whilst playing fast and loose with his language, does actually offer quite a lot of sanguine advice. Films that have dealt with the economic recession (see The Company Men, The Big Short) typically take on a balanced measure of human interest and banker villainy, whilst The Greyness of Autumn takes the former and displaces it into comical farce with huge undertones of tragedy - a difficult feat.
There is a lot to like about Quick’s film, including the witty script and some impressive editing - the soft fades between Danny’s various scenes are well executed, as are the quick cuts during the office scenes - but there are also some areas where it lets itself down. A couple of the supporting cast, ironically, come across a little wooden, seemingly unprepared to deal with acting with puppets, and the numerous characters which are introduced into a short running time makes the pacing seem a little chaotic. That being said, the final sequences are very poignant, and both Quick and Airlie James’ performances are noteworthy.
It seems a shame that the production company behind The Greyness of Autumn, Quick Off The Mark Productions, are now no longer making movies. This is an ambitious and genuinely funny example of what can be achieved by daring short filmmakers. Even if it does have a few loose threads in places, there is a huge amount of entertainment and quality here.
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