Nicole Pott’s 18-minute film is on loss, grief and the hesitant steps towards recovery. But mind you, it carries the undertones of neglect, depression and abandon too. How is it that so much could be packed into a film that runs for less than 20 minutes, one might think and the answer to that lies in its brilliant screenplay and character development.
Clara (Katie Mary Carter) has too much riding on her. And if the responsibilities were not enough, there is Dan (Ellis Hollins), the loving, if annoying brother. Their sibling love, attachment and dependence are well understood and explored in this short that has Carter playing the female boxer. While very little screen time is allocated to her professional boxing career, the film leaves enough clues to her dedication to the field. In fact, the very opening shot uses boxing as the theme to not only establish Clara’s enduring nature, but also Dan’s approach to her. A smart choice, considering how it is this very sport that comes to the rescue of a very grieving Clara later.
DoP Fraser Oxlee offers an intimate portrait of the household and the world that Clara lives in. There is no doubt to who the protagonist of the film is, but beyond the characters, there is always the looming sense of despair that is well expressed through smartly incorporated dialogues. It is both in Clara’s desperate sermons lashed out at her brother, or the exasperated responses Dan gives her that we sense the conundrum of this pair. They are both dealing with loss. The loss of a parent that has left an indelible mark on the choices that they have gone on to make. While Clara has risen to shoulder the responsibilities, her seemingly much younger brother has found a way into a company that might be best described as regrettable.
When, despite repeated warnings, Dan does not turn up for dinner, Clara finds her way into the confines of her room, only to be awoken by the C.I.D duo at the door. Hereafter, the film takes a plunge, but surprisingly, maintains its pace, a feat seldom achieved by most editors/filmmakers as the nudge to overly dramatise grief is often far too enticing. But to editor Rob Maxwell’s credit, the film not only remains evenly paced, it even meaningfully rushes through as Clara goes through the various stages of grief. (Watch out for the scenes of an enraged Clara storms after a guy whom she has seen in the company her brother keeps!)
Powerless goes beyond coping and recovering from loss. In fact, it barely shows the first, hesitant steps taken towards recovery. But what it beautifully captures are the various stages of grief. When a bereft Clara finds closure in the form of a voicemail, it is hard to summarise the emotions. To the credit of the entire cast, and especially Carter and Hollins who share a natural chemistry, the love endures, making it effective.
Much like its opening shot, the closing shot reveals Clara, ready to step into the ring once again, except that this time, the ring represents more than a sport for her.Powerless: Recovering From Loss, One Punch At A Time Click To Tweet
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Powerless: Recovering From Loss, One Punch At A Time