The Right to Remain Silent short film

Directed by David Hennessy

Starring Cai O’Leary, Mark Sweet, Susan Cummins & Rachael Holoway

Short film review by Monica Jowett

Short film The Right to Remain Silent is a surprising piece of filmmaking. Written and directed by David Hennessy, the film follows an unnamed man as he starts a six month prison sentence.

The movie tells the story through the use of narration. Multiple voiceovers describe not what is happening on screen but the thoughts and feelings what the characters are going through. It switches between the prisoner (Cai O’Leary), the parents (Mark Sweet and Susan Cummins), or the girlfriend (Rachael Holoway). The changes in perspective are affecting, more so than if we were told the story through one person’s viewpoint.

The dialogue is minimal and the story progresses through the narration. Everything is expressed by the on screen action which is running parallel with the narration. As we hear the thoughts of the characters through narration we get to know them more than if there was no voice-over, providing a depth to each character even if they are on screen for just a few seconds.

The cinematography has been cleverly used to show the difference between life on the inside of prison and life outside. In the prison, everything is black and white, reflecting how the prisoner sees the same four walls every day, and has no colour or light in his life. Similarly it is the opposite on the outside, though still not as colourful as you would hope. The family and friends are in turmoil as well.

The editing is quick. Each scene is simple, and follows the narration, but it is not slow. The ten minute film has a quick pace and fits a lot into the main body, yet it is not overcrowded. The fast editing helps this, as it cuts to each character clearly, so you follow the story.

The themes of Hennessy’s film are clear. It is not often to see a movie that gives a variety of perspectives of what it is like being in prison and have someone close to you in prison. The Right to Remain Silent gives light to the anger, depression and anxiety everyone involved feels. The film continues on a dark path, and it shows how difficult it can be for inmates coming out of prison. The Right to Remain Silent is an interesting film in its use of narrative, cinematography and characters. In what could have been a miss, the film’s unique way of storytelling keeps you invested and fully connected to the characters.

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