Directed by: Chris Keller
Written by: #ChrisKeller
Achingly beautiful and heartbreaking, short film The Last Dance from filmmaker Chris Keller combines the time with the timeless to create one of the best short films of 2019 so far.
Richard Syms plays an elderly gentleman whose isolation is broken only by a drone delivering letters, and by his scientific experiments. The latter of which involve attempting to relive a picturesque moment from his past with younger woman Sharea Samuels (and his younger self played by Nigel Thomas).
The film is set in the not-too-distant future and does contain some wickedly cool technology but Keller's film is more rooted in the past. The human element to The Last Dance is what makes it so arresting.
Syms is a wonderful lead and captures the intensity of his loneliness through wonderful physical presence. This allows the emotional drama of the story to engulf everything else happening in the short film.
Music is used incredibly to heighten the atmosphere, in particular during the dance scene which was utterly moving. However, it's the visual effects which are most impressive about the technical skill of this movie. Which isn't surprising given Keller's background within visual effects (he worked on Man of Steel and Captain America for heck's sake) but he doesn't take credit for the VE on The Last Dance according to IMDb. So I'm going to shine a light on these usually unsung masters: Petar Chardakov, Matthes Jacob, and Aatur Ravani. The bold, striking, and playful use of CGI is breathtaking, in particular the smooth transition from the machine's interface back into the central character's darkened room.
Whilst the old man and his robot storyline is becoming more commonplace (Robot and Frank came straight to mind) there is a compelling and original idea here which Keller delivers flawlessly. He plays with themes of aging, loss, and memory but in a way that feels somehow hopeful. As if all the technology in the world won't stop us feeling love and it's enduring imprint on the heart. The man is not some crazed lune getting madder and madder by the day, instead there is an elegant resignation to his situation and an almost contentment with the smidge of happiness he is able to scrape and relive through his machine.
The Last Dance is a short so finely tuned and optimised, the result on the audience will be nothing but awe inspiring. As near to perfect as a short can get.
Watch the official movie trailer below.