Directed by Filippos Vokotopoulos Starring Sean Cronin Short Film Review by Lorenzo Lombardi
Unattended Item is a tale about getting yourself in way too deep emotionally and financially. It also involves loan sharks and illegal loans. If you are expecting a thrilling crime short, though, this is not for you. This is a quietly engaging piece that subtly reaches profound heights that go beyond its main plot.
The story focuses on Andy (Sean Cronin), a man trapped in debt. This only piled maliciously atop his already downtrodden state of mind, as he is in mourning. To make matters even worse, one of the loan sharks he is in debt to wants in on his vintage shop. Andy is then forced to take action and settle things once and for all.
Sean Cronin plays this character with such skill that his performance is one of the best aspects of Unattended Item. To a great extent, Cronin and the director make Andy a nuanced character by making some of the seemingly mundane events that happen to him actually clever allegories to how his character is feeling about his predicament (for example, Andy’s angry reaction to a neighbour placing a bin on his property represents his loss of control).
Director Filippos Vokotopoulos skilfully takes techniques from a few great character-focused films and implements them to assured effects. The Coen Brothers seem to be a strong influence, with the reverse shot being used to convey surprisingly engaging conversations from one-to-one perspectives, as well as some amusing dark comedy for good measure. Speaking of which, Anais Lorié’s cinematography immediately stands out too. Her claustrophobic and unsettling angles highlight the protagonist’s inescapable situation as well as to create a sense of danger lurking around the corner.
Themes also play a big part in what Unattended Item is trying to say. Sometimes the background/backdrop is a character, and this film embodies that by making its setting of Dalston a paralleling character of sorts to the characters of the story. Dalston, a district in London, has undergone plenty of gentrification and the original residents have been forced to deal with a financial uprise, just like the protagonist. This transforms the story and makes it have a meaningful voice, apart from its well-told and personal core premise.
While it may have an abrupt ending that seemingly only served as an undeveloped reminder of the film’s title, alongside an odd choice of a pop song, Unattended Item is definitely a short film to remember. Its commentary on gentrification, change, loss and how the well-performed protagonist embodies all of these makes for a thought-provoking and interesting watch. If you love the Coen Brothers and a bit of This is England, check Unattended Item out.