Directed by Michael Coulombe Starring Andrew J. McGuinness, Starr Gilliard Short Film Review by Phil Slatter
The Purpose of Apples is a familiarly themed, if none the less sweet, tale of two contrasting love stories. It opens with Caden (Andrew J. McGuinness) walking through what we later learn is L.A. The impressive music sets the tone and the smart shot choices (including a good use of fades, birds soaring above and long shadows) create the necessary picture of Caden walking alone, lost, clearly down on himself and for some reason carrying a solitary lily. At times, the camera visibly shakes which does somewhat detract from the mood, but it’s a minor misgiving.
The master wide shot then stays largely the same for the rest of the film as Caden befriends elderly woman Ethel (Starr Gilliard) at the bus stop. Ethel is recently widowed while Caden we learn has recently split from his girlfriend. Two different people at different stages of their lives but both coming to terms with love and loss – it is a little obvious where the film is going thematically. The performance of Gilliard though – very much the film’s beating heart – keeps you interested and she gets a surprising laugh from an unexpected comic beat.
The dialogue in The Purpose of Apples does occasionally feel forced with the central apple metaphor becoming a little stretched but it does work as an interesting entrance point to the characters’ conversation and subsequently their very different, yet equally similar, lives. We learn much of the back story through two flashbacks: one showing the very start of a relationship and the other showing the very end. Both of these are presented in vibrant colour which is a stark contrast to the washed out aesthetic of the present and serves to enforce the notion that where we’ve been can often be happier than where we are.
For a reported budget of $1,000 it does make good use of its almost solitary location and relies on script and performance to get its points across and the music, as mentioned before, is always impressive and key to setting the scene.
While perhaps certain elements could have been tightened up somewhat and there is not a lot of fresh material in the film’s core messages, there are none the less elements to be applauded with the short film’s overall look and sound being undeniably its best feature.