Yes, Virginia short film review

★★★★

Directed by: #HarveyPuttock

Written by: #HarveyPuttock

Starring: #AmyWhitworth, #TomPatient, #DusanMrden, #AlexaDoyle

Film Review by: Darren Tilby



The movie begins with Virginia (Amy Whitworth), a young woman with the peculiar “gift” of being able to grant anybody one wish, appearing on a fictional late-night chat show. Host Darryl Van Well (Dusan Mrden) has her grant the wish of a woman, blind from birth, the gift of sight, live on air. Which she promptly does. But Virginia is clearly not comfortable with using her gift. She’s used to it, of course. She’s been used like this her whole life. In fact, this entire opening sequence is indicative of the media’s exploitation of people in the fight for better ratings. But why does she really not like using her gift? What could possibly be wrong with being able to grant people’s wishes?


Well, it soon becomes clear that Virginia’s gift comes with a huge disclaimer: any effects of a wish can’t be undone. To make matters worse, she doesn’t have total control over it either - “It’s not that easy”. Mistakes have been made, wishes have been granted that should never have been granted, and people have suffered for it. Even died. But at least she has the “love and support” of her boyfriend, Nick (Tom Patient), to get her through. And, after contemplating her role in the world (all the good, and all the bad), she decides it’s time to ask Nick to wish away her gift. But there’s a small problem with her plan.


The movie itself is a rumination of one’s impact on the world—for better or worse. And there’s no denying that one individual can make an enormous difference. Take the recent #climatestrike movement started by Greta Thunberg, that’s inspired millions of people and obliged entire governments to change their climate policies. This is the kind of responsibility Virginia finds herself bearing. And while it’s clear from Whitworth’s sterling performance that she enjoys the good she’s able to do, it’s still an incredibly heavy burden to bear. She looks continuously exhausted.


The majority of the film takes place in conversation around a dinner table, but make no mistake, this is gripping stuff. The dialogue is delivered to perfection by two superb actors (Whitworth and Patient) and is itself beautifully constructed. The audience is gradually taken off-road and down an ever-increasingly slippery slope as the night begins to deteriorate. Until we’re sliding inexorably towards the now painful and horrific obviousness of the couple’s relationship. This had been a movie about domestic abuse all along.


It’s not immediately apparent, and the film does a good job of hiding it behind a facade of whimsy. Which could itself be a metaphor for domestic abuse? Regardless, the signs are there—if you look hard enough. There’s definitely a lot going on here. An argument could be made for there being a little too much going on. And there are some weird tonal discrepancies at times which took me out of the moment. Namely, things that were supposed to be sobering but just came across as funny to me (engagement party story, anyone?). But, personally, I really enjoyed this movie. Nothing feels out of place or tacked on for the sake of it, the narrative flows really well, and the performances are enthralling and complex.


Yes, Virginia is due to be released on April 29th. Check it out when you can.