Short Film – Nothing Important

Steve Taylor-Bryant found the short film Nothing Important was, indeed, something important...

When a production company, in this case French Fancy Productions Ltd, emails to tell you they set up their company in order to promote the female voice and imagination in film, with material that allows women to be fully represented and authentic, not just as a side–note and without justification, it's important that you take them seriously. Women are still massively underappreciated and underused and not supported with the correct amount of care in this industry and, as a middle-aged man, I feel it is vital that I take the cause seriously as it is my brethren that are causing the issues to begin with. The only way female filmmakers will get a fair shot at the success of their male counterparts is if men who look like me do something about the situation. Now, I don’t run a studio and so cannot act with any real power but, when I get review opportunities such as Nothing Important from Georgina French, the head of French Fancy Productions, I can wield my pen and give the female voice the same public treatment I would give a film from a man, I can rave about a female-centric production in the same way I do about a predominantly male one, as I honestly think raising public awareness to the material available is the only way things are going to change. If I can do my part to get bums on seats and eyeballs on the project, then maybe going forward treating female film projects seriously like we do the men’s will become the norm. That being said I am not promising glowing reviews of everything I get sent because not every project will be good, not every film or casting choice hit the mark and that’s fine too, the important thing is to judge the art, not the gender of the artist.

But ignore that last line for now as Nothing Important is nothing short of stunning and so a glowing review is incoming…

I had not heard of author Shirley Jackson’s short story ‘Trial by Combat’ before and so a film adapted from that material didn’t really give me any clues as to what to expect. Trial and Combat are both provocative and aggressive words, so some kind of action or dark and sinister scene was a given surely? Wrong. Whilst Nothing Important is indeed dark and sinister, you don’t actually realise that until you are reflecting afterwards, long after the closing credits have rolled.

What Nothing Important is, is possibly the politest psychological thriller I have ever seen, prim and proper Britishness throughout yet with undertones that unnerve you. The story revolves around Emily Johnson (Rachael Stirling – Salmon Fishing in the Yemen), a young woman new to London who is renting a room in a bed and breakfast type hotel. She has her personal belongings in her dresser drawer and her photograph of Dan, her military partner, upon her table. Slowly items go missing from her room. A paperweight ornament, her scarf, are the first to go. Thinking she heard movement from downstairs on occasion Emily goes to the lower room and meets her neighbour Mrs Allen (Linda Marlowe – Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) and after pleasantries Emily tells Mrs Allen the story of her belongings disappearing. The women are very similar, their rooms laid out exactly the same right down to the photo of their military partners on their table. Emily knows it is Mrs Allen taking the stuff and Mrs Allen knows she knows, but a polite exchange is all that is needed, and Emily goes about her business. When she returns from a job interview to find the cigarette case and engraved lighter from her beau Dan have been taken, she pretends to leave but sneaks back into the building hoping to catch Mrs Allen in the act. When no one is in her room she sneaks into Mrs Allen’s room...

I’m not going to give away the ending, but rest assured it is as polite as the rest of the film was, and yet it still gets under your skin and leaves you wondering what will happen next. This film is a fabulous example of what can be achieved in the short form with wonderful cinematography (Anna Valdez-Hanks), an incredibly subtle yet affecting score (Joby Talbot), and great direction (Tara Fitzgerald – yes that Tara Fitzgerald the wonderful actress from Brassed Off). With acting of the highest standard and impeccable manners from the two leads, Nothing Important becomes a beautiful film on the surface that burrows into your mind before you can stop it. Utterly charming, incredibly dark, brilliantly British.

Follow Steve on Twitter @STBwrites

Images - French Fancy Productions

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