First, the Recap:
Shattered self-image and fractured hope. Two elements, each on their own being powerful and potentially destructive forces, that when combined can lead someone to believe there is simply no way out. In this state of being, away from others and feeling totally alone, what chances are there of finding someone who genuinely empathizes or understands? In a remote locale and sitting in a small car, a deeply frustrated, distraught man named Adam (Murphy Rhodes) undertakes the preparations to enact what he’s deemed the only road out of his troubles. Resolved to end his life, all is going according to plan until the arrival of an unanticipated “guest” in the form of another man, Tony (Damien Speed).
Tony initially begins to point out how typical of a plan Adam has devised, even to the point of agreeing it would ultimately be the way he’d want to go, before just getting in the car’s passenger seat, much to Adam’s consternation. Now more agitated, Adam tries to rid himself of Tony at first, but then engages him in a conversation that turns decidedly more unnerving and impactful than ever expected. As the two hash it all out about the actual validity of their shared intentions and the circumstances that have lead them there, a decision is made that will shape the future of both men and shine a solemn and heart wrenching light on life and the value of second chances before it’s too late.
Next, my Mind:
One thing that continues to be made clear to this reviewer when it comes to the short film genre is how deftly a highly arresting and emotionally-driven theme and/or subject matter can be addressed, effectively mind you, in such an abbreviated amount of time. With its straightforward, accessible sensibility and simply executed narrative that tackles one of the most necessary topics out there in addressing suicide, writer/director/co-producer/editor Ben Johnson’s 8-minute film doesn’t pull any punches in depicting two men’s haggard struggle against what they see as the only solution available. Yet, in the midst of their respective pain, both enter into a quite meaningful, albeit raw, dialogue about everything they’ve both been encountering individually, which then prompts further analyzation of their mutually chosen panacea, leading up to a formidable and persuasive finale. The cinematography is clear and smoothly shot, following the characters with purpose and ease. The film’s emotive accompanying music drive the poignant and haunting moments home well.
Rhodes embodies the character of Adam with solid enough poise and gravitas as a man pushed to what he has perceived as his personal edge, with no light at the end of the tunnel, and therefore surmising death is the one true answer. Being in the literal moment of acting upon this decision, his demeanor endures a shake-up when interrupted by Tony, much to Adam’s irritation. Yet, as Adam chooses to learn more about Tony, we begin to wonder if there’s suddenly been a change of heart on Adam’s part, especially given his initial reasoning for even being in the position he is possibly not being unconquerable. Likewise, Speed presents Tony as what appears to be a very care-free, even happy-go-lucky guy who just happens to end up involved with Adam by total happenstance. However, once we hear the way Tony initially converses with Adam upon realizing immediately what he’s attempting, it becomes apparent Tony is just as broken inside, which comes out full force as the proceedings unfold. Again, this is uncomplicated, realistic interaction, and Speed plays upon this well.
In total, “To Whom It May Concern” is a suitable piece of indie short film art that shows keeping things on a basic level doesn’t mean poor quality effort, but rather that a film doesn’t have to be high-budgeted to carry a weighty, relevant message which needs to be taken seriously, as is the case here. I hope this brings more awareness to the plight of those struck by the desperation, loneliness, hurt, and hopelessness suicide so often represents and that the moves to prevention are carried forward that much more.
As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!