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Throw Your Heart Over First (2021) Short Film Review


Directed by: #MarkMcAuley

Written by: #MarkMcAuley

Starring: #MarkMcAuley


During a life changing acting audition for an up and coming movie, Dave struggles with his grief on the day of his father’s funeral.

The film opens with an uneasy, tense tone established instantly as we hear the sounds of heavy breathing as if someone is running, before cutting to Dave (McAuley) entering the studio. Filmed in one single take shot for eight minutes, director, writer and star Mark McAuley sets the scene very well through fluid, engaging camera work. Once Dave enters the room, the camera follows his eye line as he glances to the right to the director and film crew setting up, then to the left, where two other men are reading off scripts, practising for their auditions. A startling confession from Dave breaks the natural pacing of the scene, as he has an emotional outburst over being the first to go for the audition, due to his father’s funeral taking place on the same day.

Although Dave pays off the two men before him so that he can go first, he remains distracted and irritable, forgetting his lines and needing to repeat the beginnings of the scene again. The scripted line “I couldn’t have done anymore”, resonates with him and the visual presentation of the short suddenly changes as the camera moves towards Dave when he begins to address us, the viewers. This breaking the fourth wall moment is very powerful because of the tantalising theatrical nature and McAuley’s riveting, touching performance as he delivers a monologue about his recent experience of being with his mentally ill, dying father in hospital and muses on mortality in general. McAuley projects much emotional depth here, ranging from frustration to confusion and eventually - sadness.

McAuley manages to convey much, in both his performance and direction, for such a short screen time and his choice to use black and white photography is also inspired. The visuals are crisp and capture the overarching theme of grief through the use of heavy contrasts, as well as highlighting Dave’s big moment as he translates his feelings into a creative outlook through his performance. The short reflects on the tangible challenge for many spectators on attempting to move on from losing loved ones through passions, but struggling to cope with pent up emotions.

Overall, Throw Your Heart Over First explores its provocative themes of grief and creativity with the aid of striking direction and an engrossing performance from its lead.



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