Mojave Shadows

Hiking in the desert, coming to terms with her son's death, Susan is bitten by a rattlesnake, and has only hours left to live.

Genre: Drama

Length: 25 minutes

Free To View

4 out of 5 stars

Producer/s : Jaime Torres,

Director/s : Jaime Torres, 

Writer/s : Jaime Torres, 

Actor/s : Sabrina Percario, Ronan Barbour

 

No shade

A bitter study of loss, set against the extraordinary landscape of the Mojave desert. It’s as dry and desiccated as Susan’s spirit, for the shadows in the title are those across her heart. Susan has returned to the scene of a past trauma, but faces a new crisis when she’s bitten by a rattlesnake. As she wanders into the desert wilderness like a wounded animal preparing to die, the question is, does she really want to survive?

The landscape is a character here. She barely tries to conquer it – that is the role of McConway, the park ranger who searches for her with the aid of a sporadic mobile phone signal. The story is simple, and practicalities, such as how he covers miles of desert on foot, irrelevant. What draws us in are the remorseless landscape, and the evocative music, which bridges Ry Cooder in Paris, Texas mode, and Pink Floyd’s Echoes.

The production standards are high here, reminiscent of the Reece Witherspoon movie Wild. This makes the odd errors all the more annoying: the shadow of the camera and microphone in shot, which could surely have been edited out (although Tarantino managed similar bloopers); and a couple of avoidable continuity goofs. It might have been a good idea to visually differentiate between story and flashback, and what may or may not be a delirium scene.

Susan’s physical and existential pain is carried by the excellent Sabrina Percario, while Ronan Barbour effectively conveys McConway’s dogged search.

Californian filmmakers are blessed, with mega-cities, deserts, forests and mountains all at hand, not to mention an abundance of skilled crew and talented actors. Mojave Shadows has picked up awards for cinematography, music, as well as for Percario’s acting. There’s a high bar for filmmakers out there, which Jaime Torres shows himself quite capable of clearing.

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