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The Right Words

average rating is 5 out of 5


Alasdair MacRae


Posted on:

Nov 2, 2022

Film Reviews
The Right Words
Directed by:
Adrian Moyse Dullin
Written by:
Adrian Moyse Dullin, Emma Benestan
Yasser Osmani, Sanya Salhi, Aya Halal

On the school bus romantic but awkward teen Mahdi (Yasser Osmani) is peer pressured into asking out his crush, Jada (Sanya Salhi). Adrian Moyse Dullin’s short perfectly encapsulates the microcosm of high school, the awkwardness of finding one’s-self, of learning the rules of social circumstances, and of course, the perpetual threat of humiliation, exaggerated even more so by social media.


Arriving on the bus to find his older sister Kenza (Aya Halal), and her friend Aïssatou, (Rama Ndongo) posting his private poems about his crush on Snapchat, Mahdi is already having a bad day. Kenza sees this as an opportunity to push him into asking Jada out, a move that seems a little too much for the socially disjointed teen as Jada does not even know who he is. Whilst Mahdi can see a level of risk in the endeavour he is still naïve enough to block out the potential downsides that we the audience can see. This is reflected in the combination of close-ups and shallow depth of field used to isolate characters within the frame despite the densely populated situe of a school bus. The intimacy is used to create both a sense of interiority and a romanticised style of looking.


The core drama at the heart of the short can largely be reduced to managing the audience’s expectation of how Mahdi will fare in this significant coming-of-age moment. A moment that we know, through experience, he will carry with him forever. A timelessness and universality like that exemplified in the use of the stressful tempo of the Allegro of the Summer of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. However, we are not the only ones who see it this way, as the possibility of a very public rejection grows near Aïssatou feels a sense of complicity in her friend’s cruelty, finding herself arriving at a crossroads in their relationship.


The given English title for this short is The Right Words, but the original French title Haut Les Coeurs, is a better reflection of the film, a phrase which loosely translates to “take courage!”. An intimate yet universal drama that plays on our risk-averse sensibilities and suggests that maybe it couldn’t hurt to be a little more naïve or romantic.

About the Film Critic
Alasdair MacRae
Alasdair MacRae
Short Film, World Cinema
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