So I decided I’d do some searching for new shorts to watch… And little do you know, right off the bat I got this – “Something I never had” by Andy Dodd (courtesy of Twitter). I mean, how lucky am I to stumble upon a lovely, compact, well shot, brilliantly acted, meaningful and touching little nugget like that… And on a first try of the night. Therefore, I deemed my hunt complete and went on to sugar-coat it in writing.
And here I am. Some shorts I find are just like that – they know what they are. I mean, their creators know what they’re doing and hence the end result is all the more powerful. “Something I never had” fits perfectly into that category. It doesn’t try to make me believe you can do action films on a three-digit budget. It’s not trying to be pompous and artistic. The photography doesn’t overwhelm the picture by attempted fancy angles, shallow depth of field and such. Its power lies in the bullet-like parabolic emotional conversation – a conversation filled with remorse, guilt, resentment, and ultimately, forgiveness.
“Something I never had” is a film about a confrontation between a father, who had selfishly abandoned his family, and his daughter – who then had to take care of her alcoholic mother. That’s about it. It’s just that simple… Simple, and yet overwhelmingly powerful… We all know the subject – the narrative of paternal (or maternal) abandonment is almost inherently embedded in contemporary film (or any form of art, for that matter). Nonetheless, a story like that can be very instructive and morally uplifting when done right. It doesn’t take much: a couple of actors, a camera, and a man behind it that knows where to look for genuine human interactions. “Something I never had” proves brilliantly, how simple it can be for us to care about the characters we see on the screen, make a strong connection, or perhaps relate on the basis of our own experiences.
It is all too easy to go overboard while tackling a sensitive subject – especially in a short form. Andy Dodd navigates swiftly delivering waves of emotions that relentlessly increase in magnitude only to break into a tsunami in the climax. I have to admit, Andy, you almost had me crying there for a second – and it’s not an easy feat. Everything is just right about “Something I never had”, and just because of that I couldn’t ask for more. It doesn’t take much to woo the viewer. Sometimes by staying in touch with the reality of the story you’re telling is more than enough to make it perfect. Combined with subtle and well placed music, very personal shots (the shaky hand-held frames at the end worked well for me, even if not on purpose), convincing actors and well-paced dialogue, all that makes “Something I never had” a short to remember. I certainly will.