WATCH THE TRAILER HERE
First, the Recap:
Imagine a world where everything is silent. Daily life happens all around you, you see it all unfold, yet stillness is all that transpires. Such is the existence of two deaf children, Belinda (Aryana Engineer) and best friend Alexander (Will Palmer), living in a care home outside contemporary London. Communicating via lip reading, Belinda has a dream to be a jazz singer like her idol, Peggy Lee, which Alexander has supported her in while they both share a mutual dream of being “normal”, Belinda’s misguided and adolescent term for hearing people. However, one barrier stands in the way of this goal in the form of their resident caretaker, Ingrid (Beth Winslet), who effectively prohibits them from indulging in this fairy tale.
Not willing to give in, and having an even deeper desire to see their dream accomplished, Belinda and Alexander steal away from their overbearing and dictatorial home in order to take their journey head on. Finding the location of a classic, 1940’s throwback jazz club in London, the pair first stop by a local costume shop to dress the part of a 1940’s couple with the help of generous store owner Mr. Ryegold (David Foxxe). Their look complete, Belinda and Alexander arrive at the club, and with the equally considerate help of two other patrons (Marco Luis & Alicia Charles), step back in time to the strains of a Peggy Lee singer (Charlotte Jo Hanbury). What follows is a magical and heart-tugging experience that will change their lives forever.
Next, my Mind:
Utilizing a potent combination of silent film with an absolutely fantastic modernization of the Peggy Lee/Benny Goodman jazz classic “Why Don’t You Do Right?” (as performed by the seriously talented Hanbury!), “Dreaming of Peggy Lee” immediately and effectively transports us into that muted reality Belinda and Alexander live in. Subtitles bring us their thoughts while they lip read, which honestly enhances the absoluteness of their conditions to a sobering level. But it is their deafness that becomes the beauty in the story, showcasing the fact that so many around them would do nothing but try and limit what they can achieve or be identified as in a hearing world, illustrated here by Ingrid’s demeanor towards them.
Engineer and Palmer, both hearing-impaired in real life, completely and absolutely engage the viewer as these two, wont-let-a-dream-die kids whose innocent love and devotion to one another added to their passion for being seen as “normal” flat out drives the emotional impact and attachment to the film, with Winslet’s Ingrid really being the catalyst for everything to ultimately take place. Beautiful, yet perfectly subtle cinematography carries us from the modern London care home to the quiet ease of a 1940’s jazz club, shot entirely at The Rivoli Ballroom in Brockley, London, making the viewer feel like they, too, are escaping with Belinda and Alexander. Folks, director James Everett has a serious short film hit on his hands here that can bridge the gap between the deaf and hearing communities, no lie. In only nine and a half minutes, the message is clear, the tale powerful and heartwarming, and be ready, as a single note will echo in your mind.
As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. A special “Thank You!!” to director James Everett and the cast and crew of this amazing piece of indie filmmaking. Until next time, thank you for reading!