Hope (2009) 17 mins.Directed by Tim Hyde
Starring Harry Bradshaw. Featuring (in order of appearance) Dan Styles, Dion Williams, Shane Nolan, Geertje, Peter Salter, Conor Edridge, Jonathan James and Claire Garvey. Original music by Laura Tabourin. Hair & Makeup by Emma Carvell.
The meaning of this short, chameleon-esque word will mean something different to a father whose young family have been ravaged by war, and something else again to an elderly widow suffering from Alzheimer’s. In these examples, extreme as they may be, hope is an experience felt by the alone. Yet the mechanisms of hope are arguably social and romantic all at once: “I am never alone in the world.”
Tim Hyde’s short film melancholically provokes these questions in his extrapolation of human love and relationships; the brooding, intensely ‘filmic’ love of the protagonist’s young parents, and the domestic, un-conceited familial love of parent-child.
Isaac (Harry Bradshaw) is a young man in his late teens, somewhat atypical in temperament for his ‘Millennial Generation’, who are epitomised by the collective political hope in the government, notably Barack Obama, and the belief they can affect change in the face of economic, ecological and social disarray. Isaac reads the news and hurts for it. He scribbles in his journal while ruminating on the news of the world and his parent’s broken post-marital lives. Like a true ‘Millennial’ who wills that cultural production will counteract pain, the scent of the decade-old notebook moves him, both emotionally and supernaturally, back to his pre-adolescent presence amid his parent’s trauma.
Offset by the film’s lack of dialogue, the focus on the most intimate, immersive, and reminiscent of the senses breeds a feeling of being in Isaac’s body, not merely watching him. We see his aloneness, but cannot pity him for we too bask in his heroic solitude. Indeed, while it is hard to convey the subtlety of olfactory experience in digital video (let alone in under 20 minutes) Hyde’s atmospheric cinematography and tactile art direction allow us to visit the places of Isaac’s poignant final days. Culminating in the fateful dissolution of their family of three in the final wedding scene, we may be inclined to ask “whose hope?” Return, then, to our examples of the victim-of-war father and the sickly widow: hope, in Christian theology, is a gift in place of a loss.
This religious allusion is fruitful and deliberate: in seeing a fight in the street, Isaac’s hand slices into the low-angle frame, separating the perpetrators, signifying his influence and consolidating our idolisation of his embodiment of change. As the name would suggest, Isaac is in fact a biblical pastiche of both Christ and the faith of Abraham’s son -also at the dawning of his manhood and life’s potential- who willingly becomes the sacrificial lamb on the mountain. Hyde’s Isaac, however, is endowed not with the reserve of deep spiritualism, but the pure love for his parents and a profound recognition of their anguish. In Hyde’s world view, the altruism of youth offers the ancient language of the super-hero shrouded in the paraphernalia of now. The film exposes the melodrama of some promising acting talent, and summons anticipation for the next prophetic story from this intriguing new director.
Review by MCH, 05/08/2009