FILM

REVIEW

BFA

FOR FILMS IN CHARGE OF CHANGE

HAYLEY

directed by Michael Dolha

As the first scene unfolds, the audience is gradually integrated into the story, giving us a hint about an unlikely or mysterious situation that is going on in that plane.

 

The cinematography is on point, always setting the right angles that support the build-up of the dramatic course, as well as shaping the character in a proper cinematic direction. The dreamy imagery is so well executed that makes the atmosphere become unbalanced and uneasy, with the air seemingly hard to breath in such a situation. Keeping in mind that the whole drama takes place in the air, when it brings you down to Earth the climax point makes it even harder to breath, especially when you get to realise the true dimension of the story. The unclear foggy filter that prevails the whole film settles an uncertain possible situation, so - through imagery  - we’re being told that something is not how it’s supposed to be from the very beginning.

 

‘’House, Envelope, Lollipop, Pumpkin’’ was a clever acronym that we didn’t quite catch from the very first shots with the girl’s sketches, mainly because the camera eye wasn’t really that focused on them. Instead, revealing these words lining up the word ‘’HELP’’ is quite a punch. Even the first message left in the bathroom could’ve easily been overlooked thanks to the indifference and the resistance of the uncle, this last message depicted from the draws really triggers a doubt and raises the audience’s awareness on the child abuse tragic realities.

 

Even the whole plot may be misguiding at moments, having numerous situations where the uncle’s attitude doesn’t trigger any hint (we’re not given many throughout the film), the last title scene is really revealing and necessary, but also frightening and unexpected. As a conclusion, this short film seems to look like a small dose pill, showing us in a subtle way how dramatic and chameleonic this situation can pass right under our nose, without noticing any of the signals given both by the attacker and the victim. It might get frustrating at times, when the plot doesn’t give you all the puzzle pieces and you don’t get to fully understand what’s happening, but I guess this is how the world works in real life: you don’t get to uncover such situations if you don’t take a deeper look at the fine details sorrounding you. It may happen to your loved ones or even to the person next to you in the morning bus. That’s why it’s frightening, because it is not a matter of witnessing, but being aware of the world we live into and having all the eyes and ears hearted to the ones next to us.

 

The overall performance of the actors is solid and convincing, as well as the casting carefully picked, blending perfectly with the whole scenery. The facial grimaces are convincing and the way they look to each other adds a lot to the whole tension atmosphere. The segments where the characters become worried engage the audience with the narration, wondering how this is all going to end. They will certainly be looking for a hint to explain the cause of all this, keeping them mesmerized until the very end.

 

Raising the awareness on child abuse is a highly sensitive statement because in some societies it is not that wide spread as it truly deserves and people are not that aware of it enough to take action as soon as they feel they are suddenly encountering a problem. Usually it’s something happening behind closed doors and most of the times it is truly hard to say whether or when this happens for sure. While climate change mic drops over all the world wide concerns, the real problem of child abuse comes even on a deeper and dreadful way, as the most innocents of us might be  victims of it everyday. 

 

We are truly glad that we got to see such a short film full of meaning and hidden messages, coming as a red flag on this serious matter. Michael Dolha, as a young and talented romanian film director, made a bold move through his film and we think this is by all means a winning move, giving  the chance to his audience to become aware of his statement, so the whole purpose and execution of this idea can only be acclaimed. 

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