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A Mind Full

average rating is 4 out of 5


William Hemingway


Posted on:

Dec 27, 2023

Film Reviews
A Mind Full
Directed by:
Steve Whiteley
Written by:
Steve Whiteley
Daniel Boyd, Reis Daniel, Susan Harrison

We all know what it’s like. The modern world is a tough place to exist, let alone live your best life, and it can be hard to feel as though you’re making good progress or taking arms against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune with a smile on your face, especially when everyone on social media seems to be doing it so much better than you. Zander (Boyd), however, might be someone who you’d think would be better than most at facing the constant pressures of daily life, being as he is a mindfulness and wellness coach who is coming to the end of his training course and is about to be certified. Unfortunately for Zander though, this may not actually be the case.


We are introduced to Zander as he is on his way to his final session and find, that like the rest of us, he has to deal with difficult conversations with family members as well as the finicky Kafkaesque mechanics of paying remotely for parking. He’s late for his session and obviously flustered but for the life of him he’s trying his best not to show it. It also doesn’t help that Zander’s forgotten about the fact that his final session is going to be live-streamed and he needs to be mic’d up for the duration.


Once in front of the class, with Remi (Harrison) the Zen Retreat’s resident expert sitting in to take notes, Zander settles down and begins his lesson, immediately making the rookie mistake of asking if any of the students have any questions about mindfulness practice before they start proper. Cue Steve (Daniel), the lackadaisical layabout for whom meditation isn’t working and who finds the whole business of mindfulness a bit of a put on. Steve’s difficult questions and refusal to take platitudinal answers as gospel only serves to irk Zander some more and it’s taking all of his strength to keep calm and focus his energies on acceptance and inclusivity. If only he can reason his beliefs to himself and to Steve and find his own headspace, Zander is sure that he’ll soar through the rest of the lesson and everyone will realise just what an enlightened individual he is – because he really is, isn’t he?


The beauty then of writer/director Steve Whiteley’s new short film, A Mind Full is that the focus is most definitely on the human aspects of the characters. Nobody is perfect, everyone is flawed and we all have moments of weakness where things get too much for us and we either want to curl up into a ball and sob or put somebody’s head through a window to make ourselves feel better. For all of his posturing we are encouraged to remember that Zander is just learning too, much like the rest of us as we navigate our way through life, with a lot of the comedy and insight of the short film tied up in the fact that any of us could easily identify with either Zander or Steve, or even both.


The direction is handled confidently by Whiteley, making sure to give each character, as well as the rest of the class, the time and space they need to be themselves as each of them either retires into their own self or starts to come out of their shell as the session goes on. Cinematographer Adrian Marciante does an interesting job of blurring the edges of some frames to show where the focus currently lies while also managing to fill the shots with plenty of colour and light. There is some good music which helps set the scene and keep the audience engaged, and the acting from everyone involved is always convincing and natural. Daniel Boyd does an excellent job of expressing Zander’s inner turmoil through small gestures and facial expressions, managing through no small feat to keep him as a sympathetic, identifiable figure, while Reis Daniel is perfect as the incorrigible fly in the ointment who nevertheless has some good points to make.


All in all it’s the wit, heart and humanity that shines through in A Mind Full with its ability to encompass the whole of the human spirit, no matter how down and dirty it gets despite its high and mighty ideals. We can all find ourselves somewhere in this joyous little film and even if we can’t get on board with the spiritual namby-pambyness of it all, everyone will at least get the message that it’s best to enjoy the time that we have to the best of our ability. Namaste.

About the Film Critic
William Hemingway
William Hemingway
Short Film
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