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By midlandsmovies, Mar 6 2019 10:25AM

Carriages (2018)

Directed by Adam Palmer

Carriages is a new 10-minute drama short from regional writer and director Adam Palmer covering awkward encounters on the train tracks around the region.

Jonathon David Dudley stars as the unlucky in love lead who sees a stranger on a platform (Alishia Southall) but through embarrassment and shyness doesn’t say anything despite the obvious attraction.

On his daily commute he seems to be struck by this girl of his dreams but his quiet demeanour and timid countenance is not making it easy for him to strike up a conversation.

Joining Jonathan is Midlands Movies Award nominee Michael Cotton who comedically plays an office colleague joking that she has probably got an “awful personality” which is less than helpful to the lovestruck young man. A brilliant support turn, Cotton delivers as a suitably dismissive friend as he tries to take his mate’s mind off “train girl”

Close ups of the worrisome face of our lead bring the audience into his humble world but from a stranger on a train (Lawrence Walker) to a ringing phone, he is constantly derailed from starting an introductory chat.

Excellently shot on real locomotives and platforms, the well-thought out locations add classy production value to the film. And an 8-mm film-style cutaway gag on what our lead could have done differently was both a verbal and visual delight as he is accosted by the love-rival stranger for being in his seat.

As we are shunted from one scene to the next, the rickety jolts of the carriages themselves seem to represent the unstable state of each encounter. The editing back and forth between the unspoken train sequences to the office-based re-caps are well constructed and help lead the audience down the right tracks.

As we come to the film’s conclusion, we get a steadier situation on the platform which calms our lead before he finally gains the confidence to stand up for what he wants.

With its heart in the right place, Carriages takes a wry, and slightly old-fashioned, look at embarrassment on the ‘express’ but its innocence is one of its many plus points. A great cast steams ahead with dedicated but delicate performances to create a wonderful soft tone which will help audiences get on board with this terrific tale on a train.

Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, May 17 2018 06:17AM

Midlands Review – Answer

Directed by Adam Palmer

“I didn’t mean it to end like this”.

Answer is a new Midlands short from filmmaker Adam Palmer which covers a difficult conversation about a young couple’s relationship that lies in tatters.

We begin with a shot of a man who wakes up in bed as the filmmaker dubs over the voice of his ex-girlfriend leaving a message on his answerphone.

The film was made in an afternoon and despite its off-the-cuff origins, the script is well written as our lead rolls out of bed whilst hearing a voice from a girl explaining her decisions to leave him.

Our lonesome lead is played well by Lawrence Walker who gives his almost-silent protagonist a sense of confinement and loneliness with just a few quiet movements and beats.

His introspective performance cuts a solitary figure as we see him undertake a serious of mundane tasks – getting a pet’s dinner ready, buying a frozen meal for one or even simply gripping the kitchen work surface in apparent frustration.

The (somewhat anonynous) voice is provided by Nathalie Codsi who gives an outstanding reading of what could have been just another local heartfelt drama. Her voice is infused with regret, sadness yet determination as she delivers information to her ex.

The audience can feel her pain and one begins to wonder what could have happened to get to this situation. The juxtaposition of this melancholy female voice tinged with hopeful sorrow and a man looking remorseful begins to create a certain sympathy. The voice explains how “rushed” their relationship and that they were “very young”. When it is clarified that they have a child as well, “Charlie”, even more compassion can be felt.

However, the filmmaker cleverly provides this information slowly but surely over the course of the message. Here, the dynamic changes quickly as the voice tells us that the man is not allowed to see his son for a while and we start to question why.

The female partner reveals how she “couldn’t see why you were so controlling” and our attention shifts to a more sinister underlying menace from the past.

Ending in tears she explains the domestic violence she suffered at his hands and her partner breaks down crying with exclamations of how sorry he is.

An impactful film, Answer uses its short runtime to create a fantastic story that uses relatively cheap production to get its powerful message across. This is no bad thing and shows how ingenious storytelling need not be too expensive and can be delivered in a way that’s affordable to local filmmakers on a budget.

Using the subject of domestic violence, which is quite common with local shorts, could have resulted in a stale familiarity but here the director Adam Palmer uses a unique conceit to show how conversation may be the key to salvage these most difficult of situations.

With two strong performances – especially from the mouth of the talented Codsi – Answer ironically provides no answers to the complexity of relationship breakdowns. But despite the dark subject matter leaves the viewer with a tinge of hope as we hear the surprising “ping” of another answerphone message before the story ends.

Midlands Movies Mike

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