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By midlandsmovies, Oct 31 2019 08:54AM



Safely to Shore


Directed by Matthew R. Ford


2019


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.


Guy Russell


Twitter @BudGuyer

By midlandsmovies, Dec 6 2018 08:25PM



Midlands Review - Climbing Trees (2018)


Directed by Matthew R. Ford


Midlands Movies writer Sam Kurd takes a look at a new 33-minute short "Climbing Trees".


Climbing Trees is a short drama film written and directed by Birmingham-based writer/director Matthew M. Ford. It’s the story of a guilt-ridden father, tormented by dreams 12 years on from the murder of an 8-year old girl, who is trying to come to terms with the event and his inability to move on.


It starts slowly, almost lazily, as Kris meets 8-year-old Eliza at the scene of her murder. The mood quickly turns dark as he slips from dream into nightmare, though, and it’s immediately clear that this isn’t going to be a happy tale. Kris is a man divorced from society, seemingly living on the fringes even while passing among the crowds around him.


People know him, know his story, know his 12-year-long tragedy, but no one can bring themselves to speak to him. He drinks hard and grieves hard, living in a blur of drugs and tears. Things come to a head when the news reports that Eliza’s killer is due to be released under an alias, leading him to his presumably-ex-wife Sarah for a spot of soul-searching on how things could have gone differently.


Lead actor Tee Morris does a fantastic job playing Kris, a man torn apart by the depression and guilt that’s wrecked his life for over a decade. It’s all in the eyes, the pain and the despair, all on show but never over the top. When he’s attacked outside a pub and challenging his assailant to kill him, it’s clear what depths this poor man has sunk to. Caroline Frewin is also great as Sarah, putting in a performance that does a lot of heavy emotional lifting with relatively few lines.


The film is shot well, with a good balance between the beautiful bright park where the dreams take place and the dinginess of places like Kris’ rundown apartment. The only real problem is that the pacing is quite slow, and as a result the film tends to drag in places. A few of the scenes would benefit from tighter editing to keep the story flowing smoothly; 30 minutes is quite long for this film, and the story could easily be effectively told in half that time. The dream sequences get a little repetitive towards the end too.


On the whole, though, the film is certainly excellent. The ending was a great resolution to the story, tragic and bittersweet in equal measure, and more than made up for the slow time it took to get there. It’s technically accomplished, wonderfully acted and very moving indeed.


Check it out as soon as you can!


Sam Kurd

Twitter @Splend


Find out more about the film over on IMDB by clicking here

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