Midlands Review - Hope
Directed by Tee Visuals
Hope is a new emotional drama from local director Tee Visuals starring Tenisha White and Andre Pierre as a couple facing sadness and sorrow in their poignant relationship.
Filmed with heavenly sunlight streaming into a bedroom, Hope opens with Jesse (Pierre) waking up his partner Faith (White) before he finds a pregnancy test in the kitchen which she confirms is positive.
Jesse’s happiness is at odds with Faith’s reticence but he suggests the name of ‘Hope’ if the baby is a girl. “We’ve got a long journey ahead of us”, he adds. Very true indeed as we’ll find out later. The director frames and films shots well and the visuals have a high quality sheen to them. The on-set sound is okay but could perhaps do with another pass in the editing suite to balance/boost the consistency of the dialogue volume.
However, the editing is steady and measured and the film has good use of fade-outs and metaphorical white-outs alongside some slow but meaningful scene transitions.
As the couple take their car out into the countryside for a walk in what looks like the Peak District, the tone moves into darker territory with a secret torment apparently under the surface of their relationship. More great shots are filmed here amongst the rolling valleys and hills and the director does well to capture the wide vistas and dramatic lighting of the location.
With a few drone shots as well, the filmmaker really does explore the expansive horizons, perhaps representing an unknown future to come. But here the film flashbacks to 6 weeks prior and we see the couple arguing about the difficulty of conceiving - leading to their potential break-up. 3 days after this, the couple decide to not give up despite the circumstances. But their good intentions may not be enough to see them through.
Hope's use of flashback to uncover plot details is a good but simple device to change and switch focus and create an air of intrigue over the different narrative questions the audience has.
* Some spoilers ahead*
However, as the couple begin to repair their relationship, a slow motion sequence sees Jesse involved in a hit-and-run and even though Faith says ‘yes’ after finding an engagement ring in his pocket, she cannot save him and Jesse passes away.
Sadly, a character as a ghost “twist” is quite overused in the local arena. Even last month with Leaving Home, it used the same conceit and, although I watch more local films than most, it’s a common – albeit powerful – trope that means the short isn’t quite original as it could have been.
That said, there’s enough positives to let it slide as the film has emotional gut punches and scenes that also tug on the heart-strings. And this is down to the performances of the talented White and Pierre. Both convey strong feelings of blame, guilt, sadness and loss and whether it’s a teary glance (White) or a longer passionate speech (Pierre) the two leads really hold the story together.
A bigger but slightly less welcome surprise was Hope’s post-credit scene set 25 years later (!) which featured a note that says “dad’s killer”, police sirens and a young man with a gun. I have to admit that it’s a brave choice but the sequence jolts you into another film entirely and may have been best left off this particular short.
And a melancholy piano-led song adds to the sad tone throughout and a great soundtrack overall from Marco Micucci and music from Punch Records help give the short an angelic vibe.
The (non post-credits) ending of Hope finishes on a positive note with Jesse giving some virtuous advice to instil strength and positivity to Faith to help her deal with the unfortunate situation she is facing, before he leaves her forever.
And as we are shown a drone shot that takes the audience up and away into the celestial heavens, the film’s wholesome and hopeful message very much shines through. With two divine and passionate performances and some heart-breaking scenes, Hope ends up being an impressive short containing a whole host of tender themes provided with conviction and a lot of flair.