Short Film Review “After Eights”



First, the Recap:

To remember those we’ve lost. When loved ones have passed on, it is usually a given that we who are left behind carry on their memory in the most loving and healing ways possible. So why is it that sometimes, not everyone in a given family seems to harbor the same respect and warn demeanor towards their own blood? For one woman, Helen (Fiona Dolman), this becomes an all-too-real experience while coming to her brother’s empty house, she discovers the last and most frustratingly aggravating thing accompanying an equally frivolous note from him–their own mother’s ashes–in a biscuit tin.

Totally put out by what she sees as a complete lack of caring and/or honoring of their own mother, Helen stews over how exactly to rectify the issue, finding no help from dear Aunt Frannie, whom she calls in a huff. Picking up her unruly daughter Issy (Kate Lassman Long) from soccer practice, Helen then chooses to wait until Issy falls asleep in the back seat to enact her master plan–bury her mother along with their previously departed father–at least in some form. But, as Helen embarks on her adventure to do so, Issy has been observing her mother’s actions, finally choosing to intervene, and in doing so, sparks recollections of family bonds and their influence on them all.

Next, my Mind:

As this reviewer continues to comment on often when it comes to the nature of independent cinema, straightforwardness and clearly executed filmmaking from a directing, writing, and shooting perspective can rule the day and still make for a wonderfully delivered final product that speaks volumes in its message without any need for complexity. Hence, with director Celine Cotran and producer Oliver Sunley’s new 14-minute project, this is made very evident via a simple narrative which ends up addressing so many facets of the value of family, its influence across multiple generations, and the ongoing impact it has when truly taking the time to consider it all. Cleanly shot cinematography and a very apropos music score come along for this ride as well. The comedic bent presented also melds nicely into the much more weighty aspects in play. It’s also about reading beyond what’s spoken or visually displayed, looking to the heart of intention the filmmaker is going for. While this wasn’t necessarily riveting or soul-stirring material for me, the film serves its themes gracefully.

The lead duo here, like the overall film, carry off their roles with an effectiveness that suits the effort’s needs. Veteran television actress Dolman brings her years of experience to bear as Helen, a woman whose exasperation in finding her dearly departed mother’s ashes so callously placed in a common biscuit tin is both hilarious and heartfelt. The journey that ensues to ensure the ashes find a more acceptable and worthy home is likewise filled with wit and fond reminiscing, which serves as the catalyst to bring about the film’s themes. Dolman presents all of this with humor and sagacity. Long brings about Issy as the rebellious-minded teenager she’s supposed to be, unable to see any worth or joy in so much of what she’s involved in, content to find herself immersed in her own little world of self-importance. But, the awakening, as it were, she encounters once figuring out what her mother is up to ends up opening a whole new experience for Issy, both relationally with her mother, and in the realization of how important legacies and what we’ve learned from our parents can be.

In total, “After Eights” stands firmly in the spirit and crux of its implications and substance while providing a nice little respite of humor and drama.

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



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