WATCH THE TRAILER HERE
First, the Recap:
The simplicity of sensation. The depth of perception. The beauty of realization. One of the greatest gifts as a human being is to experience the world around us via sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. Taking in the nuances and ever-changing facets of life that are found just in the confines of our own homes, much less the spaces beyond, dazzle the mind if one pauses to consider their impact. Now picture it all fading away. While attempting to carry on business as usual, a young photographer named Malcolm (Robin Gadsby) has begun to notice decided changes associated with one of his senses. Not sure what to make of it, yet another return visit to a doctor (Angela Galanopoulos) confirms worst fears.
Advised that within a finite amount of time, thanks to a rare, incurable disease, he will lose all five senses completely. Still reeling from the reality it represents, Malcolm has been hesitant to divulge the diagnosis to his now-pregnant wife Ellie (Lauren White), because of then having to accept what it means for his relationship with their new child, who won’t be born until after the disease’s effects have totally taken hold. Heartbroken but supportive, Ellie tries everything she can do to allow Malcolm to enjoy every possible moment he can with her and the world around him, even as everything begins to evanesce. Soon, it goes beyond the realms of the senses and transforms into a beautiful journey of the mind.
Next, my Mind:
Immersed in earnest sentiment and pure, affecting, stirring emotionally-fueled writing and execution, writer/director/co-producer S.J. van Breda’s soaring 12-minute short film absolutely captures the viewer’s awareness, pulling heavy on the heartstrings with a narrative that touches the soul and evokes thoughts within us about what a facet of our existence we might just take for granted–the fragility of our senses and how drastically it would change our comprehension of ourselves if it was all taken away. Would we be able to escape into the realms of our mindscapes to maintain those sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches we’ve known, much less to acknowledge our minds would be the only place left those elements exist? It’s the primary character’s journey explored here, and the potent combination of the film’s imagery and deeply moving music score carries us on his highly volatile crossing over from body to mind and soul that just carries so much weight and passion.
As implied above, Gadsby completely owns his role as Malcolm, a successful career photographer and everyman whose drive to have an ongoing fulfillment in life with the upcoming new addition to his family takes an exceptionally hard hit once his condition is officially diagnosed and its ramifications spill out before him. The initial shake-up it causes, as anyone would expect, is disbelief followed by a stringent denial, even if not by words, of the fate he is encountering, what might as well be a death of self in not being able to tangibly experience life anymore. Yet, his mental and even spiritual reawakening in spite of the circumstances is realistic and totally as heartwarming as it still is heart wrenching, a credit to Gadsby’s emotive performance. White enacts Malcolm’s wife Ellie, a woman understandably excited about the child within her and what it means for her and Malcolm, who then gets a shaking of her own upon learning about what he’s been hiding from her. Still, the initial shock and her own incredulity is quickly replaced with sincere sympathy and support for her husband, helping him to experience things in new ways while he’s able, totally played with conviction by White.
Additional support is offered from Galanopoulos as Malcom’s doctor who has the sad duty of informing him about his condition, Samantha Wendy Wade as Malcolm’s photography assistant, Tessa Trach as a model, plus Carter Morgan and Samantha E L Dunbar as a young couple seen in Malcolm’s studio. In total, with its soul-stirring, poignantly haunting premise, quality acting, and deft directing/writing, “Sentience” brought this reviewer to tears both happy and sad by its inspired finale, illustrating the short film genre’s capacity to move the heart in brief runtimes while presenting such a deeply human, narrative-driven drama that indie film keeps bringing to the forefront, demanding attention.
As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!