Short Film Review “Leaving”



First, the Recap:

The yearning found in separation. Being away from any one person we treasure is hard enough, only magnified further when it involves detachment from our whole family, and the wanting to be back with them is overwhelming.  Yet, what occurs when circumstances only allow us to be an observer instead of simply being there? For Emily Hemming (Molly Ryman), this longing and painful segregation is forefront on her mind, even as she hesitantly listens to advice being offered by her counselor, Bertrand (Sal Rendino).

His fervent but heartfelt admonishment to Emily advises her against the insistence she has at visiting her husband Paul (Joseph A. Halsey) and kids Cristian (Cristian Neenan) and Sarah (Noelle Yatauro). Against better judgement and Bertrand’s guidance, Emily once again makes the choice to connect with Paul especially, deeply engaging again in the kaleidoscope of feelings and treasured closeness they’ve always enjoyed, only to come to the hard realization that she needs to accept all of them having to move on.

Next, my Mind:

In this fourth short film effort from prolific writer/director/co-producer Debra Markowitz, the oft addressed concept of letting go of those we’ve left behind is given a fantastical infusion and well-grounded execution that only aids in accentuating its themes of loss, lasting love, acceptance of things we cannot change, and comprehending the necessary times where other’s feelings and wants must come before our own for the benefit of everyone. Utilizing what this reviewer felt was a unique presentation of exactly how the interactions between the primary characters were being accomplished, it puts so much of the imagery we are seeing into a more poignant context, therefore upping the emotional quotient of the narrative, and allowing us a viewer to be fully immersed in the plight given for our intake. The haunting music score also assists in establishing the moody ambience throughout.

Ryman soars with effortless balance and grace as Emily, a woman so filled with the everlasting adoration and love for her family, now existing without her, yet missing her with just as much passion as she is longing for them, which so often takes control and causes her constant “visits” to Paul. Seeing him alone and just experiencing his presence again is both pain and pleasure, and watching her come to the final point of release is utterly heartbreaking yet satisfying, knowing it truly is for the best of all involved. Ryman pulls this highly fluctuating dynamic off with excellent style and conviction. Halsey also brings his well-founded dramatic fortitude to bear as Paul, Emily’s husband whose total love for her is so blatantly yet understatedly displayed in their dream-based conversations and travels, but tempered with an already established choice on his end to always remember her love forever, but also showing that he’s pushing forward, no matter how difficult it’s been. Halsey navigates this with believable gravitas.

Veteran character actor Rendino delivers a wonderfully simple but highly impactful performance as Emily’s counselor Bertrand, the quiet but urgently insistent voice of reason to Emily, helping her to realize the choice she truly needs to make. Neenan and Yatauro appear as Emily’s children who are yet to be at the point of full comprehension of why their mother had to leave them. Donna Sirianni is Beth, a key factor in the real world for Paul. Additional appearances are found from Cheryl Martin, Justin Picone, and Judy San Roman. In total, “Leaving” is a finely crafted, 9-minute short film escape that deftly plays upon so many of the emotions we’ve all faced in some form when it comes to being apart from those we cherish and hugely miss when they’re not present.

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

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