Wren Boys


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Wren Boys
"A gut-punch of a short."

"Tradition can be very cruel", he says, from the pulpit, but by God, not as cruel as fate. Wren Boys is astonishing, a gut-punch of a short, an amazing example of the power and quality and inventiveness not only of its cast and crew but of short film itself.

Written and directed by Harry Lighton, co-writing with John Fitzpatrick, this is a film whose power comes from constantly and consistently and convincingly creating and subverting expectations in a looping rhythm that is as compelling as any sermon. It is testament to the skill of those involved that it works, and as well.

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Despite our love for short film at Eye For Film we can't watch or cover everything, but I'm genuinely sad that I hadn't caught Wren Boys at a festival. Watched on my laptop via the Curzon Bafta Shorts Programme it was undeniably powerful, but it would have been nice to see it with an audience. There have been some interesting choices made behind the camera, Nick Morris' cinematography has a grainy gritty grimy edge to it that somehow feels like institutional carpet and scuffed pews, like an artificial tree kept one year too long. Lalor Roddy's Conor is hangdog, earnest, an uncle and a Father to his nephew. It's after Christmas, and they're going to prison. It's not what you'd expect.

Fionn Walton and Diarmuid Noyes aren't all the rest of the cast, but they're the most important, but this is a film where tiny details matter, where set dressing and makeup and mobile telephony and a different kind of datelessness persist. The interpenetration of old and new, cruel tradition and sterile modernity, the messy salients between the affront of futurity and the misery of medievalism, ties of family, community, and more.

It's packed - short film doesn't have time to waste but few use every frame as effectively. No expectation goes unsubverted in this film, save one - if you go into it knowing it is good, you will not be disappointed. Indeed, the only way this film could disappoint me is if it can't turn a BAFTA nod into a win.

Reviewed on: 17 Feb 2018
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On the day after Christmas, a Catholic priest from Cork drives his nephew to prison.

Director: Harry Lighton

Writer: Harry Lighton, John Fitzpatrick

Starring: Fionn Walton, Diarmuid Noyes, Lalor Roddy, Billy Clarke, Carrie Baxter

Year: 2017

Runtime: 10 minutes

Country: UK


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