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For Patrick (2012)
Tonight's Short Presentation

FOR PATRICK (2012)

Starring: Jessica Martin, Aaron Blakely

Written and Directed By: Jessica Martin

See It Here: http://vimeo.com/46949238

The Story

Two people (Aaron Blakely and Jessica Martin) regard an empty roadway from the cover of the woods.  After a moment of tense apprehension, they cross.  They bear the look of a couple trying to escape.  ‘From what’ is never spoken aloud, but it’s soon clear enough… as is what one is willing to do to see that the other survives the journey.

The Rundown

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?

BRIE.

There’s much more flavor involved than one would expect at first glance.  The Brie itself disappears quickly; the memory of the taste does not.


Pairs Well With...

RIESLING.

Crisp; its flavor lingers.  I imagine the couple in this film enjoying some bottles of the stuff from a Columbia Valley winery during happier times.


“You idiot!  That was twelve hours and you wasted it!”


What should I tell you about the single best short film I’ve seen in years?

I should tell you how incredible it is to watch a film of any length that has enough faith in itself to trust members of the audience to figure out the story without having to have it spoon fed to them.  For the first four minutes and eleven seconds, only music and images set the scene.  The forest.  The clouded sky.  The looks on the faces of the characters.  The stark piano, accompanied primarily by notes evocative of a chilling wind.  The lack of other people, or even animals.  The fact that only one sound from the scene itself is allowed to reach our ears: a watch alarm, which is immediately followed by the characters searching for what an observant person will quickly deduce is a supply of hypodermic injectors, though their design indicates an origin sometime in the near-enough future.  The fact that only one of the characters actually uses an injector, while the other fakes it… and vomits after the other one has stepped away for a while.  As a writer and as a director, Jessica Martin trusts you to put together what’s going on from the context provided, before a single word is spoken.

I should tell you that even though the setting you’ll deduce from that context and the central conflict of the story will seem familiar, both are handled beautifully, with an execution that is far superior to that of most feature films or even novels covering similar subjects.  Been there, done that?  No, you haven’t.  Not like this.  This is outstanding writing.

I should tell you that Jessica Martin does some very powerful stuff in the director’s chair.  Along with making sure that Zeek Earl’s spot-on cinematography tells the story while the characters are silent (hand cams rarely look this good), she also creates an atmosphere so strong that it stays with the viewer long after the movie itself has finished.  Think Darren Aronofsky and you’re close; if you’re fortunate enough to have seen Robert LePage’s Possible Worlds (one of my all time favorite movies, by the way), you’re closer.  It’s intelligent, it’s thoughtful, and it carries the weight of an entire lifetime within it, along with all of the emotions that define Irrevocably Big Decisions.  There are big name directors who spend their entire careers trying to come up with something this gripping and never get there, even after a hundred tries; Jessica Martin has nailed it in one.

I should tell you that her work is bolstered by an outstanding score from Daniel LK Caldwell, which magnifies the impact of what’s on the screen without ever trying to surpass or overwhelm it.  It’s complex enough to be evocative; simple enough to keep the focus where it should be.  Great stuff.

I should tell you that along with all of her wonderful work behind the camera, Jessica Martin also delivers the goods in front of the camera.  What impresses me most about this performance is how she translates resignation and acceptance of the consequences thereof and makes the audience understand not only that this “non-action” is the most powerful action that her character could have possibly taken, but even more importantly, that this action is powerful not because of what will happen as a result so much as why it was done.  The script can lay the groundwork, but it takes the actress to make it real, and if Jessica Martin doesn’t make it real for you, then you need to check your pulse, because you probably don’t have a heart.  Self-sacrificial characters have been the template for many a smarmy performance, but there is absolutely no smarm to be found here: just raw power.  It’s a power you won’t soon forget.

I should tell you that Aaron Blakely is no slouch, either.  It’s hard to play a scene that involves stammering and stuttering and utter frustration without sounding like a fool, but Blakely avoids the traps and delivers with flying colors.  If you’ve ever been shocked by news that’s broken your heart, reduced to speechlessness while needing to speak, had your whole life pass in front of you even though you’re not the one dying – if you’ve ever experienced any of these things, the power with which Blakely delivers his performance is nothing short of superb.  It’s said by many that the ultimate goal of acting is to tell the truth; Aaron Blakely, consider the achievement unlocked.

I should tell you that the flashback to better times is simply perfect, and simply heartbreaking… and again, so ultimately true.

I should tell you that the amazing short film that I’ve spent the last few hundred words telling you about is called For Patrick.

I should tell you to see it.

Bottom line, the single best short film I’ve seen in years is Jessica Martin’s For Patrick, and I want you to see it, too.  The link’s up top.  Go click it.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, August, 2012

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