Directed by Gage Oxley
Starring Jack Parr, Kaya Moore, Jim Bayes, Oliver Ashton, Jack Bell, & Cameron Hutchinson
Short Film Review by Chris Olson
Identity is a troubling thing in any culture. Who are we? Where do we fit in to the community we find ourselves in, especially when our preferences and emotions seem to contradict that of the majority? LGBT short film This World We Live In poses these questions and more, in a starkly emotive and gripping drama.
The story follows Joey (Jack Parr), as he struggles to cope with his confused sexuality. Narrating his inner thoughts as he goes and musing on the world in general, Joey finds himself both surrounded and isolated at the same time in an enduring balancing act that relentlessly wears him down. Even during moments where he is able to explore his ambiguous homosexual attractions (with the helping hand of cocaine), these seem riddled with extraneous pressures and the fallout is equally as damaging as the pretense he maintains. As his inner turmoil increases, so does his reckless behaviour, building towards inevitable peril.
Filmmaker Gage Oxley cleverly delivers a film that feels one part government broadcast, one part wildlife documentary, and one part social realism. The result is an incredibly powerful short film. The narration feels so detached from the visceral drama on screen that it hones in on this isolation and detachment that Joey feels, like he is weightless even with all the weight on his shoulders. The use of dark lighting captures the perfect mood to reflect the themes too, and the work from DOP Matthew Tingle is brutally honest, keeping the viewer in close proximity to Joey throughout.
There were some impressive set-pieces during This World We Live In, including a brilliant tilting motion of the camera used to display Joey's phone which then sweeps back up to reveal his distressed face. This felt like a metaphor for the fluid nature of Joey's state of mind, reflecting the awkward angle he seems to be viewing life through. Another great scene is a slow zooming out of his back in the shower as the water pounds him from above, a tender sequence that felt raw and emotive.
Thematically the film is ripe for exploration, tackling numerous hot topics, including the aforementioned discussion around identity. Many of the themes will feel familiar if you have seen many LGBT films, where the cores of the stories often centre on characters feeling at odds with the status quo. Where Oxley's film differs, is rendering the feeling as an almost palpable atmosphere to the film, and allowing it to swallow it's main occupant.
Completely engaging, emotionally visceral, and tonally honest, This World We Live In has a special place among the short film category this year and could prove to be one to be reckoned with at any Film Festivals it appears at.