Living As Leo
Feb 6, 2024
Cameron Lee Horace
Cameron Lee Horace
Joe Snape, Margaret Bunting, Jessica Hawkes, Helen Austin
Leo (Snape) is an awkward teenager who finds it difficult to socialise and make friends. He lives at home with his Gran (Bunting) for reasons which remain unexplained, so we’ve got no idea what happened to his parents. We can probably assume that it was bad, though. Worried about Leo’s happiness and mental health, his gran gets him a new dog, and even though he can’t manage to think of a name to give it, Leo loves his new pal along with the company and friendship it provides.
However, being the lonely, awkward teenager that he is, Leo also has other things on his mind and he has taken to watching his neighbour, Skylar (Hawkes) from out of his window with some binoculars. It is for reasons known only to himself as to why Leo would actually want anything to do with Skylar, as she is a completely toxic airhead whose main talent seems to be for bitching and putting people down. Still, Leo wants to put himself through the humiliation of actually asking Skylar out, so he goes for it the next day at the bus stop with excruciatingly foreseeable results. The fact that fellow toxic hosebeast, Lucy Loose Lips (Austin) is there to witness the whole fiasco only serves to make things worse.
Just when things look about as bad as they’re going to get for Leo, something else happens which turns his whole world upside-down and he suddenly has a big decision to make which will affect his entire future. This all may sound like quite a lot to fit into a short film with a runtime of under five-minutes but really everything is introduced with a large set of kid gloves and gets passed over quite quickly, leaving writer/director Cameron Lee Horace with enough time to throw in a couple of stylish narrative segues along the way.
Sadly these little diversions, such as when Leo breaks the fourth wall and starts talking to the camera for no reason at all, add nothing to the story or the overall feel of the film. Horace has also previously said that he was put off submitting Living As Leo to film festivals because of audio issues which weren’t up to the quality he expected, and this does come across during the film, although not enough to make that much of a difference to the viewing experience. There’s also the fact that Leo’s new dog pal is actually animated rather than real, and even though the cartoonishness isn’t badly done or jarring in any way, it is quite distracting when trying to get into the real life issues which Leo is facing.
All in all, Living As Leo is mostly a personal film for Cameron Lee Horace, basing as he did his main character on his own anxieties and experiences as an autistic teenager. This keeps the scope of the film pretty narrow and also perhaps limits the relatability of some of the strange things going on in Leo’s life/head. Certainly, identifying with a pervert who spies on his neighbour will be a bit of a stretch for most and this feeling tends to extend to the way the rest of the film is handled. Whilst there may be something to be said for the highlighting of the trials and tribulations of adolescence there’s nothing here that hasn’t been said before and better elsewhere.