The Wake

****

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Wake
"What it lacks in originality, Luis Gerard’s Oscar-qualifying short makes up for in specificity and quality."

Some stories have nothing particularly new to say, but that’s okay, because there are always new people who need to learn from them. What it lacks in originality, Luis Gerard’s Oscar-qualifying short makes up for in specificity and quality, and though older viewers will quickly see what’s coming, there’s a lot to admire along the way.

Walter (Isaac Kragten) is a teenager in a small town, the son of the local undertakers. Whilst his father attends to corpses and his mother to mourners, he slips away on his bike and visits the homes of the recently deceased, helping himself to money and small pieces of property unlikely to be missed. Now that his little brother Martin (Zander Colbeck-Bhola) is growing up, he’s decided that it’s time to start taking him along on these expeditions. Martin is Deaf, however, so additional care is needed – he can’t listen out for possible dangers himself.

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Martin also thinks differently. He’s morally discomfited by the whole enterprise. He doesn’t value the same things as his brother. Whilst Walter is looking for things he can fence, Martin’s eye is caught by an etched glass dish, cheap but pretty. Everything changes, however, when Walter finds a gun.

There’s superb cinematography here by Christopher Mably, who brings together the formality of the funeral home, the intimate otherness of the homes Walter visits and the spaces in between where he rides, free-spirited, between autumnal trees. The smoothness of the film makes it easy to go along with the older boy and buy into his view of the world until, with a simple sound, Gerard brings it crashing up against the deep grief which he has never really countenanced before. In this space, the rules are different, and Walter understands, perhaps too late, that he knows a lot less about the world than he thought.

A neat 24 minute tale with no excess baggage, The Wake is ably performed, technically polished and should speak very clearly to its target audience.

Reviewed on: 25 Nov 2023
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The son of a funeral director makes money on the side by breaking into the homes of the dead. One day he decides it's time to start taking his younger brother along with him.

Director: Luis Gerard

Writer: Luis Gerard

Starring: Isaac Kragten, Zander Colbeck-Bhola, Patty Sullivan, Shirley Delang, Robert Fulton

Year: 2022

Runtime: 24 minutes

Country: Canada, Puerto Rico

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