Midlands Review - Atonement
By midlandsmovies, Apr 20 2018 05:07PM
Directed by Auzair Razak from Coventry
A Ribbontree Production
Atonement is a new 12-minute psychological thriller from Coventry writer-director Auzair Razak which tackles issues of bereavement, grief and blame.
Filmed in a Paul Greengrass handheld camera style we begin our journey with Daniel who we discover has lost his daughter and is battling to come to terms with her passing. Spiralling into alcohol-fused decline, he returns home one night and begins to see visions of a mysterious forest.
Daniel himself is played by actor George McCluskey (another Coventry talent whom we have spoken with before) and here he excellently conveys the awkward confusion and stress of this melancholic man as he attempts to deal with his demons.
Atonement sticks to its low-key realism with music that is kept to a minimum but when it does arrive it has an eerie elongated tonal quality which adds a touch of unexpectedness to the weird proceedings.
A piercing tinnitus inducing sound signals the arrival of his visions as his daughter Emily (Lamissah La-Shontae) appears then disappears into surrounding woods. The washed-out colour palette of these scenes help establish a dream-like quality whilst McCluskey manages to evoke a devasted father well with the few lines of dialogue he is given.
A date scene in a restaurant conveys Daniel’s frustrations and loneliness as he fails to engage with his guest and as he drifts in and out of his ghostly nightmares we are given hints upon what brought him to this state.
Deep within his trance, a shrine against a wooden log and a blood-red toy car leave clues as to the backstory and we’re soon within Daniel’s mindset as his fanciful dreams and miserable reality collide.
Atonement’s only real drawback is its slight unoriginality. The ghostly daughter and [SPOILERS] car crash denouement is one I’ve seen a lot of in local films. It may just be coincidence but as recent as last week I reviewed a film about a middle-aged bald man suffering nightmare visions that leave him “hanging” onto reality.
However, that’s not to say there isn’t plenty to recommend this short too. The film’s technical aspects are rock solid with sound mixing being of particular note. Dialogue, music and audio effects have been well produced and it’s so easy to ruin a good short with bad sound. But not here. The performances are rugged but consistent and deliver the slightly-seen-it-too-many times before materal with believability and sensitivity.
A great introduction to a young filmmaker I haven’t heard of, Auzair Razak’s Atonement is a fantastic welcome of another gifted filmmaker onto the Midlands scene. One who I very much look forward to seeing more of – with a splash more originality I hope – in the coming months.
Midlands Movies Mike
Follow the short on Twitter at @Atonement_Short