Short Film Review “Florence”




First, the Recap:

Cognizance. There lies within us an acute realization of everything, everyone around us, whether we might perceive it or not. However, when we do possess a much more profound and perhaps unorthodox view of the world in which we live, how often might it be seen as–crazy? Florence (Josephine McAdam) indeed experiences life around her from a rather unique, surreal, and in the eyes of many around her, stilted perspective. At the behest of a Counselor (Daniel Hershberger), Florence is prescribed medicine to supposedly curb what has been deemed a scattered mindset, a means of control.

Yet, in the more than hesitant demeanor in which Florence imbibes said “cure”, her state of being seems not to improve, but become more erratic, filled with tense, even frightening moments she longs to simply escape from. Whether attempting to listen to her Math teacher (Hal Schneider) or Biology teacher (David Lee Hess), the attentions of a Boy (Taylor Johnson), or accepting comfort from her Mom (Ali Meier), the information being presented becomes just one small part of an increasingly kaleidoscopic reality that more often than not requires Florence to close her eyes and flee to a quiet, serene space to reconnect with her sense of self, actuality, and unnerved freedom.

Next, my Mind:

Executed with a well-planned, down-to-earth, realistic tone accompanied by an equally grounded but appropriately dreamlike visual presence that successfully highlights its primary character’s plight, director/co-writer/co-producer Caleb b. Kuntz delivers a worthy successor to his previous effort “A Thief In The Night”. Keeping the elements of the story founded solidly on the overall concept of social anxiety, the narrative moves forward with good pacing in telling the ever-changing, highly volatile state of being Florence finds herself immersed in.

Creating that unsettling mood in showing her reactions to what can only be described as psychotropic meds and how drastically it throws her into a deeper realm of uneasiness, it is only calmed by the respites she forces herself into when traveling in her head to the locales she does to find relief within. For this reviewer, it was a fresh approach in shining an inner light on the whole notion of someone who struggles with being socially apart, how she views it as opposed to all those around her trying to “help”, and certainly presents Florence’s battle to maintain sanity very effectively, consciously or otherwise, hence making the whole effort very, very human, even relatable to a degree.

McAdam enacts the role of Florence with a pronounced yet quietly understated performance that greatly suits the character’s journey, smartly infused and/or interrupted with moments of sheer panic or fear encountered as the misdiagnosis of Florence’s condition, and the subsequent means of “treatment”, take over, warping her perfect, albeit isolated, little world. As Florence truly fights to maintain any sense of what is actually real and what is almost fantastical nightmare, we as the viewer begin to question the same things right along with her, and the layered approach of revealing this is well presented here by McAdam as she guides us through it all via Florence’s disconcerted existence.

Supporting turns here are solid from Hershberger as Florence’s Counselor, the one in so many ways responsible for Florence’s circumstances becoming what they do, Schneider and Hess as teachers at Florence’s school whom she honestly zones out from actually listening to, Johnson as a schoolmate and potentially more who wants to help, but perhaps doesn’t approach things exactly the right way given Florence’s situation, and Meier as Florence’s Mom, who of course dotes on her daughter, yet remains a figure in the more disturbed visions Florence has under the effects of the meds. In total, “Florence” is definitely a win for Kuntz & company, providing that kind of real world, accessible tale so integral to the indie film arena.

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




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