Directed by: #RosieWesthoff
Written by: #AprilKelley
Short Film Review by: #TomWilmot
The short film Treacle is directed by Rosie Westhoff and written by April Kelley, who also stars in the project. Tackling a tricky yet relevant social topic concerning a bisexual woman, the short is both stylish and playful. While a simplistic narrative leaves little room for emotional investment during the course of its 18-minute runtime, the brisk pace and excellent performances make the film an enjoyable watch.
Close friends Jessie (Ari Anderson) and Belle (April Kelley) take a weekend trip to help the former get over a recent break-up. While away, the two get very drunk and end up hooking up for the night. Unfortunately, this leads to a dent in their friendship as the mistaken one-night-stand has a greater effect on bisexual Belle than it does on heterosexual Jessie.
Writer Kelley presents a straightforward narrative that helps the plot move along briskly. The clear focus on the two women means that there’s little to distract us from the core of the story, that being their changing relationship in the aftermath of a one-night-stand. However, this stripped-down approach does mean that there’s little time to grow attached to the characters, which certainly dampens the emotional impact intended with the film’s finale.
Through its narrative, Treacle manages to capture uncomfortable feelings that many bisexual individuals may have felt after a one-night-stand. It’s clear in the fallout of the event that Jessie spares little thought for Belle’s sexuality, and doesn’t really understand the emotional consequences of her frivolous actions. An intimate encounter that was merely experimental for Jessie means a lot more to Belle; something that the former hasn’t considered. In this way, the film highlights the betrayal that can be felt after a one-night-stand in general, especially when those involved have different intentions.
A lot rests on the shoulders of Ari Anderson and April Kelley, as without their excellent performances, the emotional connection to the characters would be non-existent. Fortunately, the two have wonderful chemistry with one another, as they put in heartfelt showings from start to finish. The impressive range of both actors is on full display as they convey a broad spectrum of emotions, all of which are convincingly captured in believable performances.
The light-hearted tone that dominates the first-half of Treacle is reinforced visually through the bright and cheery colour palette. The film’s summery visuals give off a relaxing vibe that suits the laid-back characters and the generally care-free spirit present in the opening ten minutes. What’s more, the energy is kept up in these early scenes through some pacey editing that makes what would otherwise be tiresome montages far more engaging.
Similarly, the tonal shift towards the back end of the short is handled expertly as there is a distinct change in the mixing of the soundtrack as well as the intimacy of the camerawork, with each character appearing to be more isolated in the frame. Through making such subtle changes, Westhoff manages to capture the awkwardness that many will have experienced as a result of a drunken one-night-stand.
Treacle is a technically sound, pacey, and energetic short film that highlights the relationship complications that can be faced by those in the bisexual community. Great performances from Anderson and Kelley elevate what is already a quick-witted and sincere screenplay from the latter. Director Westhoff leaves us with a distinct impression of her style, which we can only hope to see developed further in future projects.