Something, Anything


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

"Shelton has to do a lot as Peggy, the camera rarely leaves her and she is called on to convey complex emotions with little dialogue - and she does a good job."

Paul Harrill's debut feature is told through segments reflecting the passing seasons of the year and it's a fitting structure for a film that is largely about the tension between a desire to change and a sense of coming full circle.

Peggy is a modern version of a Southern Belle, always turned out for her estate agent's job in a twin-set, pearls and a glossy manicure, she has the obligatory set of upper middle class friends and as we meet her she's embarking on a whirlwind romance with Mark, a good looking, high-earner, who comes with a pedigree her pals approve of.

Harrill (Ashley Shelton) moves us quickly through her engagement to Mark (Bryce Johnson) and shows the tiny fissures in their relationship which open ominously under the pressure of sudden grief. As the future she was expecting is abruptly dismantled, Peggy finds herself trying to change the here and now, leaving her home, quitting her job and generally downsizing her life after little more prompting than a message from a long-ago friend.

Shelton has to do a lot as Peggy, the camera rarely leaves her and she is called on to convey complex emotions with little dialogue - and she does a good job. Unfortunately, when the script does kick in, it often makes you wish it hadn't, as the lines are frequently leaden and some of the subsidiary characters are given so little to work with that they have a tough time trying to convince. The heavy piano scoring also adds to the feeling of watching a made-for-TV movie - albeit one that has done quite a bit with a modest budget.

The film is best when it conveys the idea of stripping away personality visually, with Megan Church's excellent make-up work, gradually seeing Peggy recede from bright nail colour to bare hands and from fake eyelashes and heavy make-up to much subtler tones. Meghan Terry's costume work is similarly impressive, helping Shelton to show the gradual shift in her character. When it tries to do it through words, trite phrases such as, "Everyday is a choice", have a tendency to emerge.

There are interesting ideas here about 'a woman's place' both in the home and in society, and though they aren't as explored as fully as they might be, there are signs that, in the directing department especially, Harrill may well go on to better work. Here the sluggish early pacing and rather hurried final act - with the clompy dialogue once more coming to the fore - don't quite come off but he deserves praise for tackling difficult territory and creating a memorable female character of notable depth.

Reviewed on: 21 Jun 2014
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A sudden tragedy leads a newlywed to abandon her life.


EIFF 2014

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