Produced by Ariana Ventures and UK charity ‘Be Kind Movement’, ‘Itsy’ is a 12:00 minutes long film. Partly inspired by a true story (by Shavy Makh & Sameer Puri), the film is a fictional narration of two neighbours and an unsuspecting friend who forges their unique bond. Directed by Amy Mathieson & Premila Puri, the film is set in London with a premise that is both inspiring and believable.
Alison (Ellie Rose Boswell), a working professional leads a life that none would envy. It’s excruciatingly lonely, isolating and desperately in want for love. Her neighbours, a couple, Mustafa & Fatima (played by Munir Khairdin & Houda Echouafni respectively) bear the brunt of her suspicion. Phil Humphries’s camera follows Alison and we see her daily routine. The repetition is deliberate to let us get into her headspace and life, to understand what makes her the way she is. Despite the cold demeanour, we feel for her. The credit to which goes to Boswell’s acting, which is so achingly vulnerable that you simply want to reach out to her.
The only solace she discovers is in the unlikeliest of all creatures – a spider. Initially dealt with annoyance, she grows used to its company. (The graphics and VFX is spot on! Literally, no spider looked this adorable!) Slowly the annoyance gives way to comfort and we are introduced to a blossoming friendship. The writing by Sameer Puri is intelligent. It incorporates characters that don’t stick out like a sore thumb, but at the same time play a pivot role regardless of their screen time. We see Alison strike a conversation at a parking space and it leads to introducing her best friend – Itsy.
The location of Itsy, the spider is also particularly interesting (inside the wing mirror), as it seems after a while, like Alison talking to herself in the mirror. The dialogues are real and as honest of her feelings as they can be. Humphries’s camera frames her within her car and home and we see close-ups and mid-shots of Alison in plenty to know what’s running through her mind.
Her neighbours who have only been kind to her never receive a smile or an acknowledgement. Instead, she sees them suspiciously; perhaps it is the hijab that blots her vision, but we wouldn’t know for certain, for she remains so uptight in her own world that she seems the kind who might have been equally distant to anyone regardless of their faith. We see her snooping into their home one day out of pure curiosity and she is caught. The hesitancy in approach, the disappointment in being judged and the resignation to one’s misinformed identity are well portrayed by Khairdin.
When an unexpected calamity puts hers and Itsy’s friendship to a seeming demise, Alison is heartbroken. The story then takes a heartfelt turn where Fatima, her neighbour, approaches a visibly shaken Alison. Natasha Westlake’s editing maintains the pace of the film and Segun Akinola’s music is outstanding, to say the least. It fills the empty spaces so beautifully that the music alone could have set the tone for the film.
The dialogues, especially the ones between Alison and Itsy are well-written; the characters well-portrayed with conviction. The narratives, however, might seem like two linear plots but eventually merge into this beautiful web of friendship, mutual trust and bond.
‘Itsy’ at the end of the day warns you against being judgmental, opens you to the world of kindness where even a single act of kindness can forge a friendship and break the ice. Rest assured, if nothing, ‘Itsy’ will make you fear spiders less!
Watch ITSY Short Film Trailer