Winter Waltz short film review

★★★★

Directed by: #JosephMorel

Written by: #CallumMills and #JosephMorel

Starring: #StephenSchreiber, #MurielCarnegie, #SuzieFrancesGarton

Short Film Review by: Shrubaboti Bose




The film starts with the sound of a kettle whistling. We see an old man making his morning tea and while he is preparing it, the director takes us on a journey, focusing randomly on a pair of shoes, a pair of chairs, a piano and curiously these slow deliberate shots help us to build the identity of the character. The camera pauses at each scene, patiently giving us time for the emotion to sink in. There is something very picturesque about this film, almost resembling the aesthetic of an old photo-frame preserving the memories of a certain time.

There is a scene where Frank is sitting with his back at the audience, the solitary man in a deserted beach. The whole panorama stretches on both sides of him evoking a strange sense of emptiness that haunts him after his wife’s death. They were a couple but now he is left alone. Sounds of a child’s laughter interrupts his thoughts, he slowly lifts his face to look at a family. Perhaps, it reminds him of his own family, of his life before, maybe it makes him nostalgic, we can only speculate. As the music filters in, a red kite floats in the sky, momentarily dancing with the wind.

A year passes by and we know he is dying, but there is a newcomer in the family, a child is going to be born, his own grandchild. The cycle of life continues. Frank decides to not waste his last days in fear of the inevitable and instead becomes invested in composing his final piece, a winter waltz. He describes it as “something for us to dance to” when he visits his wife’s grave. He admits he was never good with words, but music is the equivalent of language to him. He tries to ask his daughter to accompany him in playing the piano because it is the only way he knows to connect with those around him. Music fills the gaps and spaces in his communication that words cannot seem to plug.

In the end, therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise when he chooses to capture the essence of his life and his lived experiences in a winter waltz. He wants to preserve his own memories in music. Throughout the film, music flows in pace with the tone of the narrative, sometimes creeping in closer, resonating loudly while at other times fading into the distance, allowing the character to reminisce in peace. The muted colour palette used in the movie significantly helps to emphasise the tender aspect of the overall story. Cinematography has been done sensitively, allowing the film to grow beyond the face value of its scenes. Despite being a short film, it is well-scripted and the narrative plays out eloquently, much like a waltz in time itself.