18 Aug 2021
Maxine Goynes, Haskell Vaughn Anderson III
Heartland is an absorbing and thought-provoking short film that follows Jackie (played by Maxine Goyes) attempting to immortalize her dying Grandfather (played by Haskell Vaughn Anderson III) using new technology that records the two together and stores their memories. However, Jackie’s focus soon shifts from enjoying the last moments with her Grandfather to an obsession with the new tech as she begins to miss the last real memories.
Jahmil Eady’s storyline is excellent. Powerful, thought-provoking and relentlessly entertaining. In a way, it acts as an examination of the modern world and how our attempts to immortalize our memories and loved ones through technology can harm our connections and enjoyment of everything. For me, I thought about what happens at events such as concerts today. A crowd of people going to see a band live, yet so many view it through the lens of their phone. It is another attempt to immortalize a memory by sacrificing making that memory in the first place. Eady takes this idea that we see so often in the modern world and shows us the risk of emotional damage that misusing technology can do.
The cinematography of the film complements the storyline perfectly. Much of it is simplistic, but effective. The film is not necessarily an excessive exercise in the Directors style, (as so often seen by new filmmakers) but driven by a powerful storyline that is complemented by the graceful and subdued cinematography. An outstanding needle drop of Bill Wither’s ‘Lovely Day’ really ties together the sweet, beautiful images that Eady creates and makes us pray that Jackie does not miss the last beautiful memories that are unfolding in front of her.
Maxine Goynes’ performance as Jackie is genuine, meaningful and always believable. Sharing the screen with the subdued yet outstanding performance by Haskell Vaughn Anderson III lead to a sweet relationship created. A relationship that a viewer fears could end bitterly and with regret.
Overall, I cannot fault Heartland. It is a bold and meaningful storyline that acts as a warning for a trap that we can all fall into. Outstanding performances by Anderson and Goynes form a relationship on-screen that I am sure Eady aimed to create. The Directing style of Eady is faultless, too. Avoiding the over-the-top exercise in style trap that many new filmmakers fall into. Instead, making every shot count to what she really wanted to create. A short film with meaning, beauty and a message that you are unlikely to forget.