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The Sons of Natalya Petrova - Short film review

Updated: May 22, 2021


Directed by: #HowardSmith

Written by: #RogerLawsonNoons


‘The Songs of Natalya Petrova” directed by Howard-Smith is the re-visited take of ‘Avoidance’ which stands at two minutes shorter in length. Smith takes on the mantle of most key roles such as story, photography, editing, sound and music which serves as a prime example of why filmmaking should be a collaborative effort and not a one-man band. This short film, although not to my taste, does however show a true passion of cinema and an admiration for what film could achieve.

Despite the serious and dark tones of murder, drug abuse and suicide, the poor filmmaking of ‘The sons or Natalya Petrova’ portray this film as comedic in scenes such as the “drug deal gone wrong”. This unfortunately comes to play from the poor performances and stale shooting style. The director however does have moments of success such as his decision to use black and white. At first it seems as though they transition from colour to black & white to showcase moments of the past, however as we process through the narrative, we discover that in actual fact the colour format switches in moments of trauma and devastation. The critical choice of formatting works to the films advantage in aiding the emotional intentions of the script.

The script is well worked and holds a strong sense of family, desperation and trauma which could potentially work better as feature so that the filmmakers could explore each character in greater depth. Unfortunately, the performances are weak. From a plot which clearing represents a string of emotions from the written characters, the actors show little to no emotions failing to draw the audience in.

Smith’s cinematography falls flat in moments of colour and sometimes overcompensated with exposure in the monochrome. If compared, the monochrome does stand taller and achieve more than its counterpart. The sound is inconsistent when cutting from one location to another. In addition, with the exception of some voice-over dialogue and score, there seems to be little to no sound design added in post which with bad on location audio is a must.

The Locations are not in good taste with the opening scene being shot at a Weatherspoon’s pub as well as other plain and bland locations. The pace of editing within the opening conflict is fast which draws intrigue to the scene while displaying the amount of coverage the filmmakers had from the shoot. Although this works successfully it does somewhat take away from the subtitles and in turn the dialogue, however this could prove to be my own disadvantage for not speaking the Russian spoken language of which this short it primarily spoken. The VFX of Dmitry laying on the tracks with the train incoming is executed perfectly.

Overall, ‘The sons of Natalya Petrova’ is not well received with some particularly bad aspects of filmmaking made even worse by the performances. The script and editing helps carry the audience through to the finish. With more hands-on deck, this film could have been greatly improved. Many Thanks to the filmmakers for their time and passion in trying to produce this film.



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