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Jellyfish and Lobster

average rating is 4 out of 5


James Learoyd


Posted on:

Jan 31, 2024

Film Reviews
Jellyfish and Lobster
Directed by:
Yasmin Afifi
Written by:
Yasmin Afifi
Flo Wilson, Sayed Badreya, Sergute Mariam

Jellyfish and Lobster (2023) is a heartwarming, hopeful piece of dramatic short filmmaking. Clearly constructed with deep passion, it tells a bittersweet story: set in a care home, a woman (Grace, played by Flo Wilson) has cancer; she befriends a man (Mido, played by Sayed Badreya) who has Alzheimer's disease. Together, they find a swimming pool which holds fantastical qualities, allowing them to live as their younger selves when submerged.


It’s a fairytale of sorts – youth rediscovered; romantic passion relived. The pool acts as a fascinating narrative device, used to illuminate our protagonists’ passions for life which, in turn, informs how they are to approach their current situation. These less realistic sequences also serve as a much-needed break between the more upsetting content of the screenplay. Utilising a conceptual story-trait as a way of subtextually complementing ‘real world’ characteristics is not uncommon is short films; however, while fantasy most certainly plays a part in the characters’ journeys, they maintain an emotional realism. One really senses their sadness and then their contrasting excitement. In this respect, it’s an impressively experiential work.


Tone, and the ability to gage, balance, and manipulate it, is one of the most significant traits of a movie -- truly a make-or-break when it comes to the success of any work. What’s unique about Jellyfish and Lobster is its approach to combining comedy with deep discussion of real-world issues. Subtly, we often transition from amusing to tragic in the space of a few seconds; but these transitions are always fueled by the narrative trajectory. It must be said, there are a few lines that feel slightly clunky or unnatural; yet the script is incredibly strong overall, harnessing these fluctuating emotions with expert precision.


A huge factor, of course, are the central performance(s), and thankfully they deliver. There’s some brave acting on display – never afraid to explore the darkest territory, yet embracing a sense of fun when they see the light. In particular, the portrayal of Grace is the film’s best quality: as playful as she is acidic, Flo Wilson brings a wonderful complexity to the role. Displaying a range of emotions and never appearing detached, we’re always brought along for the ride.


When it comes to the more technical aspects, the film is working at an exceptional level. Cinematography-wise, there’s a lot of beautiful lighting and photography to feast your eyes on. The use of widescreen is effective in its suggestion that what we’re viewing is a grander, more epic journey than we might be led to believe; and the film grain is also a pleasant addition – after all, the short is about travelling back through time, in a personal sense. Not too dissimilar from the piece’s content, the look is soft and vibrant, matching the story perfectly.


Despite the serious subject matter, the film manages to be joyful and cathartic. In part, this is due to the high-concept, fantasy element... but more so it’s a tale of friendship and finding solace through those around you. With pitch perfect performances and a story that’s always engaging, there’s no doubt that audiences will be moved by Jellyfish and Lobster.

About the Film Critic
James Learoyd
James Learoyd
Short Film
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