A Heart's Calling
6 Jan 2022
Sam Brooks, Dallas James Pritt and Christopher Gentle
Dallas James Pritt and Shawn Philip Cornelius
Elegance is proffered in this visual telling of man caught between faith and love.
An ode to love, faith, and visual storytelling, A Heart’s Calling is special in that cinema purist sense: complex ideas – like the unbreakable kinship between love and faith – are expressed through movement alone in a way that is fluid and elegant. And most remarkably, this rejection of the audio-dominant age is accomplished without pretence. Director Sam Brooks posits a young Christian man (Pritt) – surrounded by homophobic friends and family – forced into conflict between his faith and sexuality.
Brooks may have – and understandably so – treated this inherently agonising subject matter with the despair felt by many LGBTQ+ Christians: the Conservative Government and its refusal to ban conversion therapy – amongst other prejudicial behaviours – accepts homophobia as a societal norm to this day. But born out of this story of rejection and bigotry is something beautiful and human: hope.
Played with nuance and finesse, Pritt exhibits how piety and self-acceptance can coexist under one united banner without comprising one’s devotion to either; love and faith are inextricable. And owing to the absence of dialogue, the vehemence of this self-realisation can be experienced, rather than bridled by words.
It would be easy to say the short adheres to some Metzian school of thought, asserting that films are meant to be seen, rather than heard, to be understood. But this isn’t true. Christopher Gentle’s deeply moving score is graceful and understated in a way that is integral to the execution of each set piece: twinkling piano keys support the progression of rising crescendos so that scenes of pain and joy are experienced at their most potent. Here, words have no earthly place in this marriage of images and musical accompaniment.
The short may be rooted in true-to-life stories, but there is an ethereal sheen to its look – a feat achieved by Dustin Brandt Hyer’s meditative photography. As Pritt questions his faith – sitting alone in contemplative silence – there are penetrative rays of light that feel as though some form of divine intervention is at play here: a moment between man and the divine. This is visual storytelling for the cinema purist to fawn over.
To witness this aged cinematic form flourish within the dominance of the spoken word is always a pleasure. But to see it executed with adroitness and purpose, like in A Heart’s Calling, is something remarkable.