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Make a Wish

average rating is 3 out of 5


James Learoyd


Posted on:

Mar 29, 2024

Film Reviews
Make a Wish
Directed by:
Valentina Galdi
Written by:
Valentina Galdi
Gianluca Aliberti, Margherita Rufolo

It’s difficult to judge a film that’s less than 3 minutes in runtime; it’s even more difficult to make one. Many filmmakers will attempt to infuse within their work all the substance and complexities of your average feature, but that's not always the best path to take. With most either taking the poetic route (based on shots, tones, textures) or the short-form, dramatic route (punchy, dialogue-based story, set in one room perhaps), the new short film Make a Wish proves to be neither one nor the other. Clocking in at 2 minutes and 53 seconds, the piece tells a fascinating and unexpected story...


It’s effectively divided into two parts: the first depicts some incredibly pleasant, romantic moments – a couple walking through a winter wonderland. There are beautiful flashing lights, panning shots of the idealistic arena, and a young couple walking along hand in hand. Were the whole film just this, one could describe it as a successful, pretty-looking tone piece; however, the short then interestingly pivots to show the same man from before now sitting on a bench, observing the very same woman on a bench across from him. We realise it’s all a fantasy, and the dramatic conflict is to come from whether he approaches her or not.


The unfortunate thing is that it has a slightly creepy air to it, and it’s not fully convincing. The filmmakers are clearly well intentioned and did not consider this to be a strange route for the trajectory of the story, but it could be argued that, in such a short space of time, too much is being attempted. Viewers, I’m sure, will be swept up in the romantic nature of the first half – the calming music matching the smooth visuals work in tandem to create an authentic yet dreamlike image of a love between two people. The latter parts are ambitious in what they may be trying to convey, however it simply lacks richness, character, and explanation.


Just to briefly discuss the cinematography of the film, which is intriguing: besides the use of auto-focus settings (which is off-putting), there’s something undeniably hypnotic about the floaty aesthetic of this film. There’s an enjoyable element at play, never having the camera locked down. One supposes that this is also representative of the dream narrative the film attempts to incorporate. It would have been even more effective if, once we break from the dream, the visual sensibilities break as well – implementing a colder, more static look for the real world.


To surmise, you wonder whether the picture would feel more cohesive and tonally successful were there just a singular idea at play; or, with the ambition on display, having a longer runtime to make the concepts feel lived-in and authentic. Upon considering the twist of the piece, it makes me want to see what the creatives can craft from a darker story; the subjective and psychologically disruptive nature of the twist holds potential for something truly Hitchcockian. It’s a small but admirable piece of work – one with mystery and creative ambition.

About the Film Critic
James Learoyd
James Learoyd
Short Film, World Cinema
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