Directed by: #AbigailParmenter
Written by: Abigail Parmenter
The screen cuts to black and the credits roll at the 3:30 mark, in the short runtime of What we say, What we mean writer-director Abigail Parmenter delivers a potent and realistic depiction of a strained relationship reaching the last straw. The audience watches a woman throwing a man’s clothing out a window, that classic image of relationship troubles on display as she begins arguing with her spouse arriving back from a night out. As their fight plays out Parmenter cuts to these characters speaking in monologues, now separated as they reveal their true feelings about one another. A literal visual analogy of the title, Parmenter has the volatility of the street row juxtaposed with more emotional and sombre reflection as both characters lament on their mistakes. Whether they are speaking to each other or just to themselves is never made clear but it’s impressive how rich and detailed the script makes both characters in such a short amount of time.
It’s a strong showcase of scripting and acting as both Parmenter’s words and the performances of Chris Reilly and Charly Burridge-Jones bring the character’s to life so well. Subtle hints in dialogue and body language suggest clues behind the strained relationship such as the man having issues with infidelity or alcoholism. The faint cries of a child in the background over the shouting suggest deeper ties at risk from the fallout, a family breaking apart. You can feel the history of the relationship in these performances, the frustration and the pain in the street and the regret and care in the monologues. That there was love between them and what has destroyed them can’t be undone, both Reilly and Burridge-Jones complement each other beautifully in unveiling these pieces to the audience.
There’s not a lot of time to What we say, What we mean Parmenter only focuses on what’s important, not allowing melodrama or convolution to drag out the conflict and maintain the defining realism which makes the film work so well. This outcome to their relationship has been building for a while but just like reality it only takes a few minutes for it all to come crumbling down. Joao Da Silva’s cinematography does fine work in expressing the nuances in Reilly and Burridge-Jones’s performances especially during the static closeups of the monologues. Combined with Parmenter’s editing, the distance between the two characters is presented in visually interesting ways but Nick Parmenter’s ambient score gives that sense that their connection can’t be fully dissolved.
Powerful and to the point, What we say, What we mean doesn’t waste its time or it’s meaning. Parmenter’s vision is direct and empathetic bolstered by an excellent script and performances.