Directed by: #EsenArikan
Written by: #EsenArikan
Noah is a teen much like any other; she has the pressures of school, the pressures of home and the pressures of her own mind to contend with. Noah’s real problem, however, is that she doesn’t really know what the problem is. She’s started having blackouts in school, most prominently when faced with an exam, and she’s finding herself more often than not on the floor of the bathroom rather than in the exam hall where she is meant to be. How can she explain this to her already anxious mother, and what will it mean for her future if she can’t find her way through the teenage trials that lay before her?
In the short film Tiptoe, writer/director Esen Arikan struggles with these everyday teen issues and tries to get us to face up to what it means to grow up in the modern age. With mental health at the forefront of everyone’s minds and the usage of performance enhancing stimulants common in the halls of American academia, perhaps now is the time to stop and think about the societal pressure that is heaped upon the youth of today.
Told in the style of a ‘kitchen sink’ drama, Tiptoe, as its name suggests, treads carefully around the main issue of what’s really on the young protagonist’s mind. We get glimpses of happier times that give an insight into how she would rather spend her energies, and we hear snippets of dialogue that tell of the anxieties and doubts which lie just below the surface, but what we don’t get are answers to why Noah has started blacking out the way she has.
The whole feel of the film is reminiscent of the mother/daughter relationship in the incredible family drama, Six Feet Under. Indeed, Sophie Malleret as the mother bears an uncanny resemblance to Frances Conroy in that role. Here, too, the real crux of the matter always seems to be tantalisingly out of sight, the unknown emotions keeping themselves hidden in the shadows, covered over by the conventionality of everyday life.
Arikan builds the story well, from the first scene to the last, and always seems to find just the right place for the camera. The acting does feel a little stilted at times, but this can be somewhat forgiven due to the difficulty in delivering a completely natural tone to conversational dialogue. We are kept guessing, along with Noah’s mother, as to what can really be the matter, but as is so often the case with teen troubles there is no quick and easy answer.
If Tiptoe can raise awareness of the pressures that young people are under in this day and age, and can allow us to pause and think about those around us whose lives we may not always see clearly enough; if it can give us that space to stop and breathe and remind ourselves of what is really important to us, then hopefully it will have achieved what it set out to do.