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Torchlight short film review

Updated: Aug 26, 2021


Directed by: #AndyKastelic

Written by: #AndyKastelic


The latest offering from writer/director Andy Kastelic is a flawed and contrived, but well written and often beautiful window into the lives of its four central characters. And while there are a few missteps here and there (the incest side story was a little weird), this is a competently made and engaging movie.

Charlie Malloy (Andy Kastelic) – a wide-eyed boy in his youth (played by Andrew Olson) – falls reluctantly into his uncle Terry’s (Jack Forcinito) employment after the death of his father. Working as a debt collector for his uncle’s funeral home, Charlie isn’t particularly keen on the mobster-like rough-housing techniques used by his uncle and his goons but does his job, regardless. However, the situation is made more complicated when he’s given the task of recovering the debt owed by his childhood crush Viola (Sarah Minnich) and her brother Samuel (Gennaro Leo), whose own father recently died. And, to complicate things further, the brother and sister are in a sexual relationship with one another...yikes!

Torchlight boasts an impressive cast. One full of excellent performances. But, while Charlie is a wholly sympathetic character, the other characters can feel underdeveloped. Samuel And Viola don’t really go anywhere, and their “situation” seems contrived; while Uncle Terry comes off as a generic mobster type. And again, there’s nothing wrong with the performances here, they’re suitably intense and emotive where they need to be.

I think the problem here has come from the fact that the whole (short) film feels incomplete; like it should be just a part of a bigger narrative. This is merely a snippet of the bigger picture. A bigger picture we don’t get to see. Because of this, the whole incest storyline comes out of nowhere, adds nothing to the film and feels a little awkward. We simply need more context for this situation and development for the secondary characters as a whole. Now having said that, there are some really touching moments to be found here, namely in the flashback sequences.

This, I believe, is mostly down to Jannis Schelenz’s superb cinematography. The home-video style of shooting, warming colour palette and superbly understated acting by the young cast (Andrew Olson as Charlie and Ava Wagenman as Viola) blend together to create scenes that are as emotional as they are visually beautiful.

Torchlight presents itself well. There’s nothing terribly original here; nothing to set it apart from others like it. But what it is, is a well-made, well-written, well-acted and intriguing short film. I wish there were more here; more time dedicated to the side characters and development of their stories. But of course, it’s easier said than done. And what we’re left with is a flawed but solid piece of indie filmmaking.



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