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Marching On Together

average rating is 3 out of 5


James Learoyd


Posted on:

Jun 12, 2024

Film Reviews
Marching On Together
Directed by:
Dan Lovatt, Adam Sandy
Written by:
Dan Lovatt, Joe Facer
Pete Foster, Joe Facer

'You can't choose your family' seems to be the main sentiment in this well-observed if slightly undynamic domestic drama Marching On Together (2023). It focuses on the fraught relationship between a young man and his judgmental, seemingly conservative grandfather as they get into a contentious conversation while watching football. Concluding with a twist ending (of sorts), the piece offers up a naturalistic character-study with deeper connotations unsaid. With some intelligent writing and strong intentions, it's slightly unfortunate that the filmmaking fails to be as engaging as the central premise, but it's absolutely worth a watch nevertheless.


There are two strong performances featured in the picture, and this isn’t a film that’s afraid of depicting unlikable, complicated characters. The performers are playing with a lot of upsetting subtextual ideas, and they handle it well. The screenplay is undeniably effective; rich with many upsetting themes, all explored with maturity. This all makes for a most watchable piece of work which holds the viewer’s interest through intelligent writing and its discussion of common social issues. But regrettably, the film’s stylistic elements leave a bit to be desired.


Critics will often say that a film suffers from a kind of theatricality. They may state something to the effect of "this would work much better as a play" - and I find this quite condescending. What they mean to question is whether cinema, as an artistic medium, is being utilised to its fullest potential - with a focus, of course, on visual over thematic or narrative traits. While this is valid, some may fail to consider that the filmmaker in fact wished to use the form for that very reason. Marching On Together is not an inherently cinematic piece, and it does arguably suffer because of that; however, I'd suggest that this isn't because of the scenario but instead the storytelling.


There's a slight lack of confidence in the direction. For example, the sequence of dialogue that works the least is when we're cutting between two angles, both of which are wide two-shots from a similar distance from the subjects. With both shots holding the exact same visual information without guiding our eye to any specific point in frame, the cuts don't just become superfluous but also distracting. Wide shots are great, but if one character is really emoting then a closeup wouldn't go amiss. There are some absolutely wonderful shots in this short, and the use of widescreen is impactful when it comes to framing the two characters in the same moment whilst emphasising emotional distance. What is needed, however, is a willingness to go slightly bigger, closer and deeper - something the talented filmmakers are clearly capable of.


To surmise, Marching On Together is undoubtedly an original short film which admirably sheds a light on a complicated family dynamic. I’m also certain that a great many viewers will be able to relate either personally or simply emotionally to its content and message. Even though the blocking isn’t always up to scratch, it’s a strong effort and I implore the filmmakers to keep producing dramatic work like this.

About the Film Critic
James Learoyd
James Learoyd
Short Film
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