‘Family Day’. - Becca Phillipson - James Burgess - 2.9.17.
This is a very sweet-natured, charming short-film from the multi-talented Becca Phillipson. A refreshing, earnest ‘dramedy’ - obtaining the correct balance of a mixture of drama and comedy, Family Day is set within the limiting confines of a prison.
But what is all the more surprising is that aside from the dark and gritting tones that have become customary - particularly on television - in the ilk of Bad Girls or The Accused - this feels much lighter. It’s lighthearted, without ever feeling too frothy or insubstantial.
These are people who - prisoner and visitor - both still strive for fulfilment and aspiration, and, without giving to much away - also don’t let authority prohibit a little liberated freedom…
Exactly what that freedom entails is again executed very deftly, without ever seeming didactic or over-sentimentalized. This is achieved through such clever use of slow-motion (again, never too earnest or over-the-top) and a yearning score that’s understated - matching the action perfectly.
These themes are well-observed and timely, but the camaraderie of the inmates is still very present, even in the face of obvious adversity.
The performances are all appropriately conversational and natural, and on what must have been shoe-string money and resources - a crisp, deeply polished project has been made. I wish there were more short-films of this sheer quality that were both this original, as well as fundamentally entertaining - whilst also being subtly undercut with offering an acute social comment.
Rating: * * * *