Short Film Review “Lost Face”



First, the Recap:

Maintaining dignity, self-respect, and honor. Qualities especially valuable to be found within those who deem or have proven themselves leaders, it becomes that much more imperative to demonstrate these traits in the face of being challenged. However, what happens, in accepting one’s steadfastness being contested, when said attitudes turn into hubris and vanity masking as self-esteem and authoritative wisdom? On a certain cold winter day, there lies the remnants of community, now only burning embers and ash, a former fur trading post in ruins. Amidst the physical devastation, the ground is littered by the bodies of those who inhabited it, cut down by the members of an Indian tribe once captives, now freed by calculated vengeance.

While select warriors collect the trophies the tribes were renowned and highly feared for, only two men remain–Big Ivan (Sheldon Maxwell) and Subienkow (Martin Dubreuil). With the former undergoing the not-so-tender “mercies” of their conquerors, Subienkow has no illusions about what fate is to befall him. Having to think quickly as to how to face the inevitable, he calls upon the tribal leader Makamuk (Gerald Auger) in a desperate attempt to bargain with him while his people look on. Advising Makamuk he has a strange and powerful gift to offer the great leader, Subienkow soon has him providing the elements he needs to create his magic, even as Makamuk’s elder tribesman Yakaga (Morris Birdyellowhead) warns him of potential deceit.

Next, My Mind:

With its powerfully gritty visuals, dramatic weight, and formidable intensity combined with a highly clever narrative, this 14-minute short film effort, based on a story by Jack London, gets a greatly noteworthy adaptation delivered from director/cinematographer Sean Meehan. Illustrating concepts covering the pure harshness of reality in frontier life, the human instinct to survive and avoid prolonged pain, plus the volatility (or gullibility) of the human ego and its need to be proven right, the film’s pacing carries the viewer through with significantly impacting intent, holding nothing back, while ultimately showcasing the ramifications of what can transpire when an individual is unsuspecting, exploitable, and unwary, deaf to the better wisdom others are trying to input, and then having to face the shaming results of stubbornness. It’s a compelling portrait, forcefully presented, convincing and, honestly, all-too-real in how it can hit home with its message, no matter what era you’re from.

Dubreuil puts forth a wonderfully executed performance here as soon-to-be sole survivor of a massacre Subienkow, a man of stout upbringing, weathered and strong, built for the unforgiving terrain he’s lived in, now suddenly encountering a turnabout in his fortunes from those whom he once felt dominate over. Having to accept an unavoidable demise that could purposefully be drawn out by his vindictive captors, watching Subienkow put his plan into motion with such a deliberate calmness that surely belies the terror he is experiencing within is a treat to watch, and Dubreuil is excellent throughout. Likewise, Auger commands the screen in his role as Makamuk, a proud, fierce, and capable warrior chief to his tribe who finds himself unknowingly on the receiving end of one desperate man’s scheme to do much more long term damage to the prideful Indian than could ever be done by brute force of arms or other physical assault. It’s the wounding of a man’s image and respect in the eyes of peers, the effects of which are so overtly affecting to witness occur to Makamuk, obstinate until the stunning end, all enacted perfectly here by Auger.

A primary supporting turn is offered here by Birdyellowhead as Yakaga, a tribal elder of long-standing life experience whose astuteness and prudence go unheeded by his single-minded chief, much to his consternation and his leader’s regret. Additional turns are given by Maxwell as Big Ivan, Daryl Benson, David Burke, Owen Crowshoe, Glen Eaglechild, Clifford Gadwa, and Clay Goodstriker as several of Makamuk’s warriors, along with Imajyn Cardinal and Tracey Knaus as two unforgiving tribal women, Indica Cardinal as a tribal child, plus appearances from Robert Bourne and Daryl Fisher and a host of others. In total, “Lost Face” is a beautifully engineered short film effort that teaches us the unwavering, emotionally fracturing price of ego gone decidedly, unalterably astray.

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


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