WATCH THE TRAILER HERE
First, the Recap:
Domestic abuse. It is a topic so many would rather not talk about, others would rather ignore it altogether as if it didn’t exist. Unfortunately, it is a sad and ugly reality in this world, and therefore we see those who would acknowledge it, stand up against it, and put away those who dare perpetrate it against their own loved ones. And so, so often, the most heart wrenching victims of these heinous acts–are children. It is 1991 and a 9-year old girl, Catherine O’Neill (Olivia Daly), walks the lonely hallway of a courthouse, holding tight to her mom, Mary (Clodagh Downing), accompanied by her older sister Gemma (Gillian Daly) and a neighbor (Stephanie Behan). Already waiting in the hall, her father Edward (Neill Fleming).
In moments following, rife with awkward and untrusting glances towards Edward, despite his equally awkward and brief smiles at his daughter, the courtroom door opens and Catherine’s parents are ushered in. Soon after, Catherine herself is called and onto the witness stand she timidly sits. The presiding Judge (Hilary Cotter) advises a critical decision will be made based in part on Catherine’s testimony. As the questions begin, the tension grows, as she is forced to face answering against her own father, who’s own building sense of anger, frustration, yet abiding love for his daughter is all evidenced on his pained countenance. Likewise, Catherine soon exhibits her own hesitations as the mounting pressure weighs on her. Her part complete, a pause in proceedings ensues, and the a verdict awaits its revealing.
Next, my Mind:
Director/writer/producer Kamila Dydyna excels in her very first effort by giving us this based on a true story short film that delivers via straight-forward execution, stark cinematography, condensed yet evocative drama, and a willingness to shine a necessary light on its harsh subject matter and the real effect it has on those involved. And what adds to this potency of this narrative is that any visual reference to the abuse in question or the ultimate verdict in the case is only hinted at, leaving ones imagination to fill in the blanks. This is an effective tool that can fortify the depth of the message being brought to bear here.
While all actors taking part in this are perfectly suited for their parts and carry these off well, the two that stand out in particular are Olivia Daly and Neill Fleming. As Catherine, Daly portrays her shattered innocence with quiet yet powerful resolve, while then very much emoting realistically when it comes to the nervousness, fear, and reluctance Catherine experiences on the witness stand. Fleming is equally potent in his portrayal of Edward, whom you can ALMOST have some sense of compassion for as he struggles so greatly with his own daughter speaking against him and verifying his crimes, yet then ultimately making us realize he is a man with issues that justice needs to take care of.
In total, an honestly simple but brilliant debut for Dydyna, whom we are sure to see more from in the future.
As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!