NYIFF 2017 Short Film Review “A Secret Heart”



First, the Recap:

We’ve heard that love knows no bounds, that it has the ability to rise above all wrongs, and even overcome death itself. Yet, we become painfully aware when love goes awry, shattering our heart, and sending us on a lonely sojourn to seek solace. For one man named Ade (Kingsley Amadi), this rings far too true as he’s ushered out the door by a now ex-flame. Shaken and unsure of what comes next, Ade is totally unaware his life is about to take a fantastical turn.

Randomly spotting a young woman exiting a home while out one day, Ade makes it a point to introduce himself, finding her name is Phyllis (Feryna Wazheir). Feeling an instant connection and evident attraction to this enigmatic vision, his initial attempt to ask her out falls flat. Not willing to give up, his next try still doesn’t yield results.  Finally choosing to do some digging to find out where she goes each day, his efforts to track her down bring about an unanticipated and otherworldly journey that opens his eyes to the power, and existence, of true love.

Next, my Mind:

With a fantastically down-to-earth, credible execution and eloquently vivid, profoundly impactful narrative, writer/director Cary Rajinder Sawhney’s 17-minute short film absolutely flies high on its supernaturally-infused wings, captivating the viewer and offering some wonderfully orchestrated twists and a finale guaranteed to tug the heartstrings.  The beauty here is found in the fact the story so succinctly illustrates how we as people are often pulled in blatantly opposite directions when it comes to love–it either soars or throws us to the ground, makes us revel in its joy or severely falter in its perceived cruelty. As Ade experiences this dichotomy, the evident loss of belief in love is then radically supplanted by a marvelously inspiring reminder that it does indeed exist, which then provides this film its ultimate message. A beautiful music score and affecting visual presentation adds to this as well.

Amadi’s performance as Ade is a greatly moving portrait of one man’s unforeseen pilgrimage to discovering that out of misery and heartbreak, real, binding, honestly life-altering, timeless love can be achieved. Seeing Ade move from hopelessness to newfound joy in possibility, more potential disappointment, then to revelation is so perfectly enacted by Amadi and very believable and highly emotional for the viewer. Wazheir is no less affecting in her role as Phyllis, the mysterious woman who becomes a much larger part of Ade’s life than just a new infatuation. Her calm and friendly demeanor tempered by a cautiously shy wariness is what draws Ade to her, causing a later encounter he has with her to be that much more baffling until the larger truth of matters is revealed. Wazheir navigates this character’s nuances excellently and with a totally endearing beauty in delivery and look.

A very significant supporting role is provided here by Ann Queensberry, but no divulging what it is, as it would lead to spoilers which will not happen on this site. Additional support is given by Victoria Ashford, Claire Farrington, Mitchell Kirkham, Sampha Sisay, and Johanna Thompson as well. In total, “A Secret Heart” is a powerful, necessary, and relevant short film effort that in utilizing the quietly haunting, ethereal tones and imagery it does, it becomes that needed remembrance that love is indeed magical.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!

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