3 Feb 2022
Shaun Fagan, Radek Derlatka
Bud gives its audience a harrowing look into one mans unfortunate phone call to his son before heading into his court date.
Father and son relationships are a big part of the cinematic landscape, whether it be The Pursuit of Happyness (2006), Big Fish (2003) or more recently, Chef(2014). There is a true back and forth connection with their audience through shared experience and relatability, Bud is a definite example of relatability within hardship.
In its 4-minute runtime Bud, directed by Jack McLoughlin (Kate & Jake) brings its audience into the world of an unnamed man trying to tell his son that he won’t be seeing him for an undisclosed amount of time before his court hearing. Even though the plot here is very thin, an immense performance by Shaun Fagan (Kate & Jake, Needs Must) gives this short film all the life it needs to succeed. From what the audience sees the story is more in Fagan’s eyes than on the page here, showing the pure turmoil of having to tell the most important person in his life that he will not be around for the foreseeable future. Constantly referring to his inevitable stay at prison as ‘working away’ and that he’ll call his son when he gets to ‘the hotel’ is fantastic writing on the part of McLoughlin as well, showing this man’s true character as a caring father and compassionate figure in his sons’ life. Overall, taking full advantage of the material and the emotional centre of the character, Fagan does a stellar job here.
Technically this film is again, quite simplistic with its long take, single shot format of storytelling. However, it compounds the great qualities of the films plot and message; the audience is an on looker, a third party just as the man’s jury will be. This gives us as the watcher a privileged position of judgement and ultimately understanding of a very harsh and cruel situation. However simple the film making is, it showcases the true unrest within our lead characters eyes, showing this third-party perspective even more, never being able to look away from tragedy but taking it all in.
To not mention the score would be egregious as well, entering the narrative at the opportune time this very subtle yet powerful musical piece extenuates the story being told here. It gives gravitas to an already emotional moment between father and son, and it works perfectly.
Any film does come with its pitfalls in the end, but for this short those pitfalls are quite shallow. The absence of closure is a big part of what makes this short film work but I can’t help but long for a conclusion, I want to see more of the relationship formed between viewer and family within our short time looking in.
Overall, Bud is a breath of fresh air when it comes to dramatic shorts. It never treats its audience as anything more than a capable listener and active observer, leaving me as a reviewer to want more. A definite must watch for your next short film-athon.