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Read to Me

average rating is 4 out of 5


Chris Buick


Posted on:

Jan 22, 2024

Film Reviews
Read to Me
Directed by:
Dan Horrigan
Written by:
Dan Horrigan
Christopher Sherwood, Rosie Steel, Nathalia Campbell-Smith, Tim Davenport, Jordan Louis

Dan Horrigan’s spellbinding short film Read to Me tells the romantic crime story of Rolan (Sherwood), a dyslexic inmate at Strangeways prison, who on his first day receives a letter he is unable to read, therefore, he turns to the prison psychologist to read it for him.


But before the words are read aloud, Rolan, who despite his illiteracy is in fact blessed with a staggering verbal eloquence, poetically regales us with the tragic story of how his circumstance came to be, spinning us a beautiful tale full of love and sorrow.


Rolan might not be able to read in the traditional sense, but his gift for interpreting tarot as he puts it more than makes up for this. It is during one of these readings at a local fair that Rolan reads for Zara (Steel), a young mother trapped in her own terrible situation that the now smitten Rolan knows he must free her from, thus falling into a life of crime and personal sacrifice in order to save her.


Horrigan’s artful offering here is as much a piece of theatre as it is film, every bit as compelling visually as it is emotionally. Centred around a more-or-less extended monologue effortlessly delivered by Sherwood (more on him later) Read to Me isn’t a film filled with big drama or tension, but is still written with so much depth, elegance and emotion that in telling its well-rounded story, it draws you in almost completely, managing to be funny, sad and everything else in-between. Coupled with astonishing cinematography from Fraser Watson, Guy K Ward's tight editing and Mitch Snell’s stellar sound work, Read to Me, as mentioned before, is as much a piece of theatre as it is film, and perhaps even art.


And all of these wonderful achievements both technically and narratively are anchored sensationally by what can only be described as an immense performance by Sherwood. All these other elements of the film simply seem to orbit and are kept aligned by the impeccable talent that Sherwood seems to effortlessly exude, a turn that manages to somehow make Rolan so much more than he simply might have been, a character to really connect with, like, pity, distrust, and fear all at once. The rest of the supporting cast understandably are left with little to do in comparison, and though each of them are very competent in their own right when they do get their moments to shine, such is the magnitude of what Sherwood achieves that their impact doesn’t have any chance of registering anywhere near as much.


Read to Me is well worth a watch for Sherwood alone, but with a deftly told story and great technical prowess on display, there is so much to savour here.

About the Film Critic
Chris Buick
Chris Buick
Short Film
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