Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Short Film Review: DELICACY (2014) Directed by Helen Curran

Delicacy Helen Curran, Michael J.Tait, Garry Graham-Smith
Made as part of writer/director Helen Curran's degree at The Manchester Film School, Delicacy is a notch above the standard student fare; both in aspiration and execution.
Set in a ruined chapel on the Belgium/French border in May 1940, two British soldiers are trapped in the ruins during the retreat to Dunkirk. Sergeant Thompson (Michael J. Tait, Heretic) is badly injured and trapped under rubble and fallen masonry, looking to his faith to pull through, but relying on the lowly Private Barnes (Garry Graham-Smith) to keep him hydrated and attempt to dig them out.  
Thompson's arrogance and lofty demeanour make him an unappealing but realistic character, and it's very easy to sympathise with the put-upon young Barnes during their plight, even perhaps with his extreme survival methods. 
Telling a taut tale in its brief fifteen minute running time, Delicacy is a brilliant example of a low-budget filmmaker making the most of what they have. Two fabulous young actors (Tait being the more experienced, but both shine), the single location, and a great eye for lighting and shooting the subject to enhance the already fabulous production values. Utilising a 2.35:1 ratio gives a really dynamic, cinematic feel to it all. Despite having the University facilities at her disposal, Ms. Curran took to Kickstarter to raise the extra budget for set dressing and effects, and it's an idea which has certainly paid off. A period film is a bold and ambitious project to undertake for a degree course, but it works, with only a few very small distractions which betray the setting (Tait's braces on his teeth for one, but they hardly noticeable when not seen on the big screen).
Delicacy Helen Curran, Michael J.Tait, Garry Graham-Smith
The film's twist - which may be fairly easy for some to guess - is handled really well too. Subtly, rather than going for 'da-da!' shock value. There's more at play here in this horror-tinged story. The class differences are explored - rather well in such a short film - and the internal politics of military life, particularly in the first two World Wars is touched upon without being laboured or too heavy-handed, as are blind attitudes to religion.
With her BA (Hons) in hand (or frame, probably), I can see Ms. Curran having a bright future ahead in the industry. She seems bursting with ideas and has clearly learned a valuable range of skills needed behind the camera, I guess all she needs now (like everyone else) is the money!
Delicacy Helen Curran, Michael J.Tait, Garry Graham-Smith
Hopefully, Delicacy will play at some film festivals later this year; if you get the chance, do go and check it out. You won't be disappointed. You can check out the trailer below, and find out more about future screenings, and Helen herself, at the official website.
9 out of 10

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