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Sticky Situations

average rating is 4 out of 5


James Learoyd


Posted on:

Feb 6, 2024

Film Reviews
Sticky Situations
Directed by:
Damien Brewer
Written by:
Damien Brewer
Damien Brewer, Sophie Chittenden, Lordsika

Thoughtful and often moving, Sticky Situations (2022) tells a harrowing story. It’s vicious, unwavering and confrontational in its outlook on criminal life, but manages to be watchable - giving us a brief glimpse into a world of constant threat. Centering around two drug dealers and the high-pressure interactions that arise for them – climaxing with a tragic act of aggression – we see their friendship evolve. The characters also demonstrate how conflict affects moral decision-making; the way bravery can lead to a show of mercy and restraint.


Realism is omnipresent when it comes to shorts – our focus being a prime example. Some would argue that the ‘Realist’ and the ‘political’ are inseparable within art; that a Realist work is defined by its offering prescient ideas and narratives. Damien Brewer’s work certainly displays these elements, yet arguably does not appear trite or repetitive: instead, it uses characteristics of the form to present the story in a thought-provoking manner. A lot of this is down to the unique perspective it’s being told from.


Set entirely in an urban environment, the surroundings present as simultaneously nuanced and oppressive. The world is so fully lived in that you get a real sense of authenticity both in terms of the characters’ domestic lives as well as the portrayal of their activities. Some of this is due to the natural style of writing and convincing interior setups, but it’s also a result of shooting on location; utilising practical lights in the city to motivate cinematic technique.


And when it comes to camerawork, there are some well-considered and dynamic shots on show. Even though handheld is implemented throughout, it feels tonally suitable; of a piece with the story it’s attempting to get across. The only issue comes with the colour grade which would have benefited from further contrast and depth: some will be able to tell that the video -- having been shot in log (presumably) -- is intended for the shadows and highlights to be pushed slightly, thus illuminating richer detail (which the footage clearly possesses).


Another brief, technical complaint: one cannot help but feeling that this film would be far superior were the editing more restrained. There are emotionally intense dialogue sequences that consist of frequent, distracting cutting. The script is strong, as are the performances, therefore it does not require rapid editorial pace to compensate. Scenes would hold far more strength and resonance for an audience if the piece simply took a breath and allowed the drama to do the work. Sticky Situations is a well-directed short: there’s a clear understanding of staging, the visual construction of back-and-forth interactions; however, the film would be genuinely impeccable if the editing was as well-considered as the content...


That content being as dark and relevant as it is, it’s important to clarify that there is valid reasoning behind the violence in the piece: it’s there to provide commentary, something reflective to contextualise the very real and disturbing scenarios depicted. Overall, Sticky Situations proves to be incredibly engaging. While inconsistent in places, this crime drama is intelligent and certainly has something potent to say to its audience.

About the Film Critic
James Learoyd
James Learoyd
Short Film
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