Midlands Review - Safely to Shore
By midlandsmovies, Oct 31 2019 08:54AM
Safely to Shore
Directed by Matthew R. Ford
Pretty Hate Productions
Safely to Shore is a new short film from Birmingham based Pretty Hate Productions and Daniel Alexander Films. Written and directed by Matthew R. Ford, the film explores the trappings of sex work and the abuse and damage that directly follows it.
Whilst walking in solitude through the woods, Pete encounters a confused, mute woman staring into emptiness. No identification, no acknowledgement and no words, the only other item she has other than her dress is an odd cube-shaped object. Joining her in a seemingly dire situation is Matylda, alone in her room and routinely self-harming, it becomes clear very soon that she is a sex worker under the watchful eye of her pimp.
Ford switches between the two stories frequently, our first setting being somewhat nicer than the latter. A crisp, burning fire in a country house is in stark contrast to Matylda's dank room above a row of shops in the city.
Whilst Pete tries to figure out who the woman he has taken in is, we see Matylda regretfully working. She climbs into a clients car and goes back to her room, there she comforts him as he cries. He does not want her for sex, instead wanting to save her from her pimp. They violently but justly dispose of him before fleeing to the countryside.
The film takes a strange turn when the two stories connect, as Matylda and her partner appear at Pete's door unannounced asking for help. All of the characters seem standoffish with one another, their personalities suddenly changed and with sinister glances given. Ford then pulls the rug out from under our feet as our two female protagonists paths dramatically merge with the following minutes leading up to the finale being ambiguous and mysterious.
It's apparent that Ford isn't going for gritty, kitchen sink realism here. As a whole, Safely to Shore feels like a fantasy, an escape route for the two women to leave their abusive lives behind. Ford amps up the uncertainly in the film with the characters operating with constant unease, we never seem to know what will happen next or what motives the characters have.
While Ford shines as the director, I felt the writing needed some work. At times the dialogue felt rigid and contrived, for example when Matylda's client asks why she does what she does, her response is “have you ever seen a hamster on a wheel?”.
However, what isn't said is the film's strength. The subtle moments where Matylda stares longingly at a picture of the ocean above her bed is a highlight - nothing is said but we can interpret what her mind is clearly thinking.
Safely to Shore therefore manages to hold your attention for the full 30 minutes, a feat not many independent short films can boast of. As the credits roll, you will be left pondering the reality women like Matylda face every day at the hands of others. This isn't a happy or an easily defined film, unfortunately you will more than likely finish Safely to Shore with more questions than answers.