Sarah

An intimate, late night art class. A bereaved young man. A married tutor. Their model...

Genre: Drama

Length: 15:12

Free To View

4 out of 5 stars

Producer/s : none given,

Director/s : David Wayman, 

Writer/s : Tom Ward-Thomas, 

Actor/s : Tom Ward-Thomas, Jane Garioni

 

Catharsis

Ralph has come to a residential art weekend run by Emily, a friend of his wife Sarah, who couldn’t make it. Why could she not make it? She did something unforgiveable, Ralph explains.

Sarah died.

Cycling accident. He bought her a helmet, but would she wear it?

Ralph and Emily are in the studio, alone except for Sarah’s ghost. The ghost lingers in the photo Ralph draws from, and in an uncompleted self-portrait, the allegory of Sarah’s shortened life. Ralph moves from repression to acceptance, or catharsis, via guilt, bitterness, lashing out, and lust. Emily too remembers, she understands, she consoles him, and finally distances herself.

It could sound stagey – single location, two people, and a story played out in 15 minutes of real time. But it isn’t, thanks to virtuoso camerawork by Jon Constantinou. Because the whole scene is a single unblinking shot. The camera flows seamlessly around the studio, from Ralph to Emily to the easel. Constantinou and director David Wayman even pull of the trick of having a flashback, bringing Sarah into the studio and out again, with never a cut.

The effect is subliminal, not showy (let’s not talk about Birdman), and is utterly justified by the sense of immediacy. We too are in the room, but invisible. And unable to leave.

One shot, but not one take. The actors, especially Tom Ward-Thomas, must have been exhausted, revisiting the intense build-up of emotions time after time.

The film is founded on Ward-Thomas’s strong writing, revealing but never stating what he’s going through, never more expressive than when he can’t articulate at all. It bears a second viewing, and a third, to peel back the layers of words and performances. Memorable.