Such Is Life


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Such Is Life
"The film convinces and amuses in equal measure."

Thomas and Sarah met online, and as a consequence have arranged to go on a hillwalk. It seems, however, that they have differing expectations - she's rucked up to Karrimor on the North Face, and he's made himself Glen Finglas ready with suede boots and a fetching blue pastel jacket. Neither is ready, in their own way, for the splendid comedy from circumstance that follows.

Making great use of its location - writer/director/editor Stuart Elliot highlighted in Q&A the cost advantages of shooting outdoors in Scotland for small budget productions "mountains are cheap", they have "the best light", "and it looks great" - Such Is Life ably charts the peaks and valleys of first and immediately subsequent impressions to good effect. There's a time-lapse sequence of the clouds whipping across the glen that would be justified solely on aesthetic grounds (keenly lensed by David Liddell) even if it didn't contribute to the solid set of rhythms the film adopts.

Drawn in part from life, the film convinces and amuses in equal measure - two strong central performances are helped in part by what was apparently a 'happy' accident. The short shooting schedule (driven in part by budget constraints even after assistance from friends and family) meant that a sudden burst of rain had to be included. Though some of the cast apparently suffered because a pair of Primark jeans were not colour-fast, the incident leaves other, more positive marks, leaving audiences far from blue. In a strong programme at 2017's Glasgow Short Film Festival it garnered a more than positive reaction from its audience.

Ably sketching backstory for its characters across a series of encounters, Such Is Life feels real enough that one expects to hear a version of it from at least one pal in the pub or in some more digital social environment. With a larger canvas, perhaps, sequences in which the half-truths of online interaction are first made would give further revelatory weight to a discussion of a "black belt in karaoke", but the central lesson - that self is unveiled by both romance and adversity, is a strong one. No special equipment is required to enjoy this short, and though we would always recommend comfortable footwear it's worth going to see if only to enjoy the view.

Reviewed on: 18 Mar 2017
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Such Is Life packshot
A short film about a hillwalking first date and other bad decisions.

Director: Stuart Elliott

Writer: Stuart Elliott

Starring: Martin Bell, Michelle Donnelly, Hannah Donaldson, Helen Mackay, Paul Clark

Year: 2017

Runtime: 13 minutes

Country: UK


GSFF 2017

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