Sep 12, 2022
Aryan Raja, Kieran Rees
Bold in its solemnity and quiet, sombre tone, Alone Again – a short film from director Shayaan explores themes of loneliness, isolation, and masculinity in a modern, demanding world.
A young man (Aryan Raja) accompanies his friend (Kieran Rees) to the train station after a night out. Carrying disappointing news about his acting dream around with him all day, the man reveals a recent casting rejection to his friend upon their departure – to which his friend attempts to comfort him over in response. But the weight of depression, rejection and isolation follow him home to an uncertain future.
Director Shayaan manages to accomplish a lot with a little in Alone Again, a 4-minute story that highlights how difficult it can be for young men to cope with feelings of loneliness and communicating this to their friends. Aryan Raja’s protagonist’s brave face hides a crushing blow he has taken earlier that day – that has left him questioning his future. The film’s train station setting shows that he has held this revelation in until the very last part of his night with his friend, and has been unable to come clean about his true feelings. This is further reinforced by his friend being the one to query when his audition is – and the revelation that Raja’s character had hidden the real date of the audition. Despite his cool demeanour, it’s a touch that shows a deep insecurity.
It is storytelling like this that allow the chemistry between Raja and Rees to thrive. Their characters combine to in a layered plot that reveals a lot about their relationship to attentive viewers. Rees’ high energy contrasts with Raja’s introvert – and their contrasting personalities make for a charming friendship. Yet despite this, Rees’ attempts to comfort his friend by attacking the casting directors who rejected him, and launching a tirade against politicians to which Raja’s character is clearly ambivalent about shows that despite their bond, he really doesn’t know how to recognise or address his friend’s troubles. It’s a commentary on male relationships, and how a tendency to hide pain and insecurities mean underlying problems can spiral.
Other touches mean that viewers get an incredible insight into Raja’s character even with just a short runtime. A single moving shot preceding the protagonist walking away from his friend, as his smiling face slowly fades into a distressed one tells us all we need to know about the character’s hidden emotional state. The inclusion of a street advert urging people to talk about their problems goes unnoticed as he continues to walk home, acting as both a thematic device and a message to the viewing audience. This impressive and immersive visual storytelling allows the film to blast away the limitations of a 4-minute runtime without losing authenticity.
The film is raw, with a few minor production issues like Rees’ character seeming to stare off into the distance in a shot he is not the focus of, or the audio occasionally fluctuating in a slightly distracting manner. As a short film, there is also an imposed limit on the plot which is rather open-ended. But these do not detract from what the film is overall – and that is an affecting and insightful short that speaks volumes beyond its words.