Sidearoadia (Short Film)

14 May


Smith’s Verdict: ****

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

“Sidearoadia” is a short film by University of Central Arkansas Digital Filmmaking professor Bruce Hutchinson, and it’s a deeply moving tale of two different people coming together as they accept life by dealing with death.

Teenaged Rose (Hannah Culwell) has just lost her older sister, Dawn (Kristy Barrington), and doesn’t know how to deal with it. In comes David (Warren McCullough), Dawn’s boyfriend, who attempts to comfort her. Rose is more into outdoor hobbies and mythical legends, and doesn’t like to talk about something as tragic as her sister’s death. So when David first approaches her, she tells him not to even mention it. Instead, he decides to get to know her better, as he watches her with small animals (such as a rabbit), listens to her talk about mythical creatures (such as “selkies”), and so on. Rose and David spend more time together, as their conversations turn to the subject of Dawn and how her death has affected their lives deeply.

Where do I begin with this film (which runs for about 15 minutes)? Just about everything in this film is done just right. The screenplay is great, with dialogue as insightful and natural as reality (I love the conversations these two have together). The acting and characterizations are excellent; Hannah Culwell and Warren McCullough are great together, exhibit convincing chemistry, and portray realistic characters with a few quirks, particularly with Rose. The film looks great, thanks to top-notch cinematography; this is a beautiful-looking film that brings the Southern outdoors to life. And the film, for all its great dialogue, even knows when to be quiet. There’s a scene in which the two characters sit together in a field, and, for some type of ritual Rose knows more about, they use only notepads and short messages to communicate. It’s a touching scene that says more about what the characters are going through.

That “Sidearoadia” is not predictable is rare and it really works. There’s hardly a story being told here; it’s just the friendship between two people who need comfort, consultation, and assurance, and find all three in each other. It’s interesting and very effective. And I can’t tell you how glad I was when the relationship between Rose and David didn’t go in the direction I was expecting it to. In any other film, they probably would have been romantically involved.

I can’t think of anything I dislike about “Sidearoadia,” except for perhaps the final line of dialogue that feels somewhat random and seems a little off in mood and tone. But if that’s the biggest problem with this short, I have little to complain about. I love this short film.

The film can be seen here:

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