Susan Omand takes the call and watches Rodrigo Sorogoyen's short film Madre (some slight spoilers)...
This short film shows you how little a film-maker needs in the way of lavish locations, action sequences and expensive effects when you have a sharp, intelligent story idea and punchy dialogue delivered by an expert cast to make your film incredibly memorable.
The story is a simple one. A young single mother arrives home to her apartment in Spain with her own mother, when the phone rings. It is her 6-year-old son, who is on holiday with his father in France. After chatting for a few minutes, it transpires that the father is no longer with the boy and the child has, for some unknown reason, been left alone, on an empty beach that he doesn’t recognise, in a foreign country. His mobile phone is low on battery, he’s on his own and he’s petrified.
That’s the set up. The fact that we see the story unfold only from the perspective of the young mother, gradually getting more and more frantic but having to sound calm for her son on the phone, is what makes this a richly intense watching experience; any backstory, what happened to the father on this trip, what happens to the boy on the beach, is left entirely up to your own imagination. All you have is this woman, on the phone, to a terrified child. That’s why the strength of the writing, the dialogue and its delivery, is vital, because it’s the conversations between mother and daughter and mother and son that make this film. Many, many plaudits must go to the small cast of five, even though we only ever see two of them, as all their performances, both on and off screen, are phenomenal. And the directorial choice, whether through artistic reasons or budgetary constraints it matters not, to focus the whole film purely on the apartment gives an added claustrophobia and feeling of enforced limitation to the story which works really well with the subject matter. The icing on the cake though, for me, is that ending. It’s brilliant. Completely brilliant. I was left yelling at the screen with both frustration and sheer admiration at what happened and how it was handled.
I do have one tiny criticism of the film but it’s purely aesthetic. Whoever decided to “punk up” the credits by making the writing judder, flash and go in and out of focus, obviously didn’t take into account that some people actually want to read them without getting a headache. But that’s by the bye. If you get the chance to watch this film in full, take it.
Image - Caballo Films