Written and directed by #LloydEdgar
Pulling at the heartstrings, Lloyd Edgar's short film What We Left Behind is the brutal reality of what it can mean to be in a long-distance relationship. Brimming with hurt and heartbreak, in just fifteen minutes, the viewer gets an interior look into characters Sam (Katie Shortt) and Elliott's (Mosa Kambule) relationship as a young couple. Both Shortt and Kambule authentically portray a story of a couple living far away from each other for the first time and the consequences that stem from their separation.
Upon first glance, Edgar's film presents itself as though in the wake of a bereavement, but then we are immersed into the reality of Sam and Elliott's relationship. Sam has moved away to university, forcing her and Elliott to commence a long-distance chapter of their relationship. It is a snapshot reality in that we the audience are not given any character background to their individual circumstances or how long they have been in a relationship, but we immediately understand what they are going through. This is even more poignant for audience members who may have been, or currently are, in a long-distance relationship and can understand the emotional range that can be experienced in that time.
It has been argued that you can only understand what it is like to be in a long-distance relationship unless you have experienced it first-hand, but writer and director Edgar does a fantastic job in communicating the emotional aspects of being away from your partner. The hardship and heartbreak that both Sam and Elliott face, from the crying as they physically leave each other, to the emotional pain of mis-communicating over video call, all feels particularly poignant in this contemporary age where a relationship apart are becoming more frequent - especially now during a global pandemic.
We get these beautiful interior moments as both characters discover what they want in contrast to what they need as individuals. Sam's journey is one of personal empowerment that results from the realisation that she wants something different to Elliott now and her setting reflects this. Her bedroom is lighter and we see the exterior setting of her university, in comparison to Elliott's locations, which are typically darkened and in similar places. Mosa Kambule is incredible in his portrayal of Elliott, highlighting the emotional vulnerability that he is experiencing in his relationship. It is rare to see such deep-set insecurities in a male character and this sensitivity has to be commended.
The camera on both Sam and Elliott is positioned so as to immerse us in the gravity of their isolation. We come to understand both characters realising the reality of being together, apart, contributing to their emotional pain. With most shots being Sam and Elliott alone, speaking via phone or laptop, the set-up contributes to both characters being afraid to miss out on each other's lives, contributing to their suffering. This too, allows Edgar to highlight parts of their relationship where it is clear that they have not experienced these feelings before, contributing to a looming sense of dread.
What We Left Behind is ultimately a beautifully real story about the pain of moving on. It is rare to see a long-distance relationship narrative handled in such a realistic way, which is refreshing. Also alongside this authentic story is a message of love, loss and letting go. Edgar's introspective into the realities of a relationship that is not built to survive is sensitively handled and deeply moving, which makes it a highly recommended watch.
Watch the trailer for What We Left Behind here: