The Opera Singer


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Opera Singer
"A passionate little film."

To younger people, it often seems strange when the elderly are uninterested in talking about the present. Shouldn't life be lived in the moment, especially so when there might not be much of it left? But when activity becomes more restricted, days can blur into each other. It's not that memory necessarily fades - it's that perspective shifts, with points in the far-off past revealing themselves to be much more significant than yesterday's dinner or what a relative has said about her holiday plans. This film is about that shift in perspective, and what it can mean to a person's identity.

Shannon Elizabeth provides the voiceover to accompany Steve Kahn's crisply edited footage - a young voice for an elderly woman reflecting on her life. Though the voice doesn't quite fit and there's a tendency to opt for sweetness over more nuanced emotion, the technique is effective in complementing a narrative that moves across time, exploring what might have been. In Kate Plays Christine, Kate Lyn Shiel tells the camera that she became an actress because she wanted to explore the many different people each of us could be. The heroine of this film has led only one life, but reflects on who she could have been, on a dream of moving to Italy to train as an opera singer. We hear a brief libretto only faintly, like the voice of a ghost or the wind through the trees.

Here is reality, and it is a move into a nursing home, into a bed with bars along the side. A saying goodbye to familiar rooms, dark wood and green leaves that we can almost smell, and a little dog who won't understand. But is it innately more real than the opera singer? Does it tell us more about who this woman is?

Abrupt, overly sentimental but potent nonetheless, this is a passionate little film that will linger in your memory for some time.

Reviewed on: 04 Nov 2016
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A woman is haunted by unfulfilled dreams.

Director: Steve Kahn

Writer: Steve Kahn

Starring: Shannon Elizabeth, Rena DuShey, Sarah DuShey

Year: 2016

Runtime: 3 minutes

Country: US


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