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Feature Review - White Lily

By midlandsmovies, Apr 20 2017 07:39AM

White Lily (2017)

Directed by Tristan Ofield

White lilies have a historical symbolic connection with chastity and virtue and are often considered a mark of purity. Yet, they are also associated with funerals. They can symbolize that the soul of the departed has received a restored innocence after death.

And with this important side note in mind, we come to a new sci-fi short from Nottingham called White Lily. Written by Adrian Reynolds and directed by Tristan Ofield, the sound of birdsong introduces us to a spaceship where a man and a woman are discussing their memories of the past.

This pilot and co-pilot have trouble with their ship as it heads towards the investigation of a passing comet. Their troublesome relationship reflects the current malfunction issues with the ship yet the film concerns itself more with memory and the past despite its futuristic setting.

With a claustrophobic Industrial sci-fi location, the film has a look of Red Dwarf series 8, but with a far more serious tone, which is ironic as we find out the holographic nature of the pair’s cohabitation.

As the pilot crawls through ducts, with tunnels illuminated by a torch light, we get echoes of Alien whilst thematically, there are similarities to Spike Jonze’s Her and the interaction and relationships between humans and technology.

But the focus is firmly fixed on the soul and human nature. “Remember the things and the places you love the most”, says Isobel as the small talk of lunch crosses with their chat of a sadder journey involving bygone memories. I read that director Ofield included hints to the nature of Alzheimer’s disease in this short, and we see this with Isobel (who is revealed as a flickering hologram) being subject to a “reboot”. This re-setting of her ‘operating system’ sees her memory wiped yet she ultimately looks the same as before.

As someone whose mother is currently terminally ill with a similar form of dementia, the themes very much hit home for me. The similarity between an individual struck down with such a terrible illness – where the memory loses clarity – and an artificial being’s historical data “wiped out” is a heartbreaking parallel. But it’s been done subtlety and handled well by the filmmaker with an ambiguity that isn’t intrusive.

Technical wise, a soaring score of urgent strings help create tenseness in deep space and brings urgency as the spaceship tangles with the comet’s crevices. In addition, some Minority Report- style floating screens are well created and the CGI spaceship is effective, especially on a low budget and it’s great to see such ambition for a local short.

In conclusion, White Lily has much more going on under the (comet) surface with interesting thematic ideas that combine the emotional and the mechanical. A superb sci-fi short with exciting performances, the film displays a brilliant array of multi-textured layers. And with all those positive attributes and more, White Lily ends up blossoming into a sci-fi gift that rewards its viewers with both emotion and flair.

Midlands Movies Mike

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