A Truly awful Disease expertly portrayed!!!
As some of you wonderful beautiful readers may know during the first Lockdown in the U.K. I hooked up with the amazing folks at Romford Film Fest and became part of their Selection team, this meant I had to watch a crap ton of Shorts and features. One of which was a short movie called Lavender that I really liked and pushed to have it entered into some of the Awards categories.
Being this was my first year helping out with the Fest I was surprised and truthfully blown away by the quality of the content. A lot of the Brit entries really struck a chord with me and it was amazing to me how powerful a 10-20 minute short could be. Lavender was definitely one of the ones that actually made me sit back and think a little differently about its subject. Recently Lavender has popped back up on my radar as it has been hitting other festivals and doing very well from what I can see. So I thought why not shine a light on this one for my Short Reviewed section of the website.
Director: Andrew Ball-Shaw Writer: Andrew Ball Shaw
Cast: Libby Wattis, Caroline Vella, Michelle Grimshaw
It’s pretty hard to sit here and write a synopsis for Lavender without giving the game away. It’s effectively a story told in two formats, the first is the present where we meet Fern and her daughter Violet. Violet trying to find a way to help and care for her mother whose health has been declining as she is living with dementia. Fern spends most of her days in a sort of daydream like state which is where the second format comes as we spend portions of the short in what feels like Ferns memories. Violet has some hard choices to make about what is best for her mother in this heartbreakingly accurate short movie about one the worst diseases.
Off the bat I want to highlight the Score of Lavender, yes the acting is great, the story is compelling but the score adds layer upon layer upon layer to this short that personally I feel cannot be understated.
Libby Wattis and her thousand yard stare is wonderful as Fern. It’s a funny one because your average person may look at this kind of performance and say “well she’s not really doing anything” this is exactly the point though, this role is a delicate fine line of avoiding over/under acting that personally I thought she made work. There are one or two scenes in this short That I guess you could describe as a tad trope-y but thankfully we have an actress on her game to make it believable and raw.
Admittedly Caroline Vella as daughter Violet is not as strong as Wattis in the role but she very much gets the feeling across. The desperation to get through and communicate with her mum is palpable and feels utterly real. I have never had to watch a person lose themselves to a heinous disease like this and I hope I never have to.
Of course there are a bunch of movies dealing with this topic and as of late I have seen a fair few shorts having a go at it. Lavender is one that stands out from the crowd in the intelligent and careful way director Andrew Ball-Shaw has shown us what I believe to be the state Fern is in, holding onto those last fleeting memories in the Lavender fields. I don’t mean to sound heartless but I don’t exactly want to watch 20 odd minutes of a woman staring out the window so when we flip to her thoughts and have gorgeous cinematic images mixed with that wonderful score, well as I said up top Layers upon layers. It’s no wonder this short is doing gang busters on the festival circuit.
I loved this short and honestly I think these short form movies dealing with these topics are super important when done correct… My only real criticism is a nit-pick at best and that was that I felt it was maybe a tad too long and could maybe lose a minute or two. There were one or two moments I thought were a tad trope-y and while I completely understand why they are in there I just feel like Wattis alone could of sold this and maybe that’s where we lose a couple minutes. Again though that’s a very small criticsm of a short movie that is for the most part flawless in its execution.