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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Joan Westmoreland's Performance & Solid Editing Elevate "Ghosts of the Long Ago Drawer" Drama

"GHOSTS OF THE LONG AGO DRAWER" (2015)
Genre: Drama
Length- 7:19
Company: LynxFilmWorks
Website: Official

Angie (Joan Westmoreland) discovers a final letter from her recently deceased husband (Haig Koshkarian).  In it, he talks about a mysterious accident, of which Angie was a part, and tells her she must find redemption from it not only for her sake, but for his, as well.

To do that, she must return to where it all took place -- her own living room couch -- where, forty years ago, she played a part in the death of her own infant daughter.

MOOD PIECES

Short drama films mostly fall into one of two camps: the vignette, and the mood piece.  "Ghosts of the Long Ago Drawer", a short film written, directed and edited by Al Germani, sits in the latter camp, eschewing traditional narrative structure in favor of short snippets of memory or flashbacks set to an emotional soundtrack.  It's one way of coping with the fact that you simply can't create all that much viewer attachment to the characters of a seven minute film.

What we see onscreen, therefore, is a perpetual montage of images, footage of the past and a tortured protagonist.  Angie has a lot to be sorry for, and Westmoreland effectively communicates this with a dialed back, minimalist performance.  This film rested completely upon her shoulders -- if she went into hysterics and it didn't feel authentic, the whole thing would have collapsed.

A DRAWER FILLED WITH SUFFERING

There were some logic issues -- for instance, a former addict (I'm assuming she's now clean, as most junkies and alcoholics tend to have serious health problems over a lifetime of abuse, and she looks healthy) would not keep a bottle of liquor and needles in a drawer for forty years -- or at least, not without falling back into their old habits.

It's possible that the "long ago drawer" was a visual metaphor, and not necessarily something that really existed, but if that was the case, her husband's letter either shouldn't have mentioned it or he should have been more clear about that for the purposes of the audience.  As it was, it strained my believability to the breaking point.

The visuals were stirring and, at some moments, pretty breathtaking.  The shots of the car fire were pretty intense and lended some much needed production value to a short film that, otherwise, focuses on Westmoreland as she sits on a couch.  Film is a visual medium, as I say time and time again here on Forest City Short Film Review, and Germani addresses that with a number of efficient but attractive shots that complimented what was happening in the storyline.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 2.5 / 5.  Germani created an intimate story that married visual elements to a melancholic storyline.  It worked for what it was, but having a former addict stash liquor and drug paraphenalia in her drawer for forty years made no sense.
Directing: 3 / 5.  Germani creates definite production value in what he puts onscreen, and his film stays visually engaging from start to finish.
Editing: 4 / 5.  There is a surreal quality to the film, and all that goodness can only be conjured up in the editing room.  Germani stitches together a coherent story from bits and pieces here and there and makes it all flow seamlessly.
Sound/Music: 3 / 5.  The score reminded me of an Enya CD, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.  Some of the vocals were a little intrusive on the story.
Acting: 3 / 5.  Westmoreland keeps the film grounded and plays a more reserved kind of mental breakdown.  Her performance felt credible.  Koshkarian doesn't get a whole lot of screen time, but we get to hear him bark orders at his infant daughter periodically, and he sounds sufficiently pissed off to be an abusive drunk.  Kristen Fogle plays the younger version of Angie, but all she has to do is stand around, do a little dance and look pretty.  She does all three suitably.

Final Grade: 3.1 / 5.

"Ghosts of the Long Ago Drawer" isn't available to watch online yet, but you better believe I'll post a link when it does debut!  Don't forget to follow the creators on Facebook!



Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!