Borrowed Time [Ginevra Gentili, UK, 2022]

As young Olivia arrives home to reunite with her mother, it is immediately made clear that the pair are not as close as they perhaps should be. The pair journey onwards to Olivia’s grandmother’s house, where a painful experience leaves her both devastated and matured. Borrowed Time encapsulates the importance of family and how one moment can define the lives of many.


Olivia (played by Olivia Clarke) re-joins her family to be present at an important, if upsetting, moment. An illness in the family leads them back to the family matriarch’s home for some sombre reflection and time together. The road ahead is, quite literally, a bumpy one but the pair make it back to the picturesque setting, aware that very little happiness awaits them.

Borrowed Time feels like a film of two halves. The initial set-up – that being Olivia’s brief car ride with her mother – establishes the rocky relationship between the two women. However, when Olivia’s incompetence causes a major delay to their trip, their animosity reaches boiling point. The decision to throw Olivia and her mother, Carol (Heléna Antonio), into this dangerous situation was surely to add fuel to the fire burning between them, but this scene feels tonally disconnected from the remainder of the film. Arguably, this set-piece moment is too grand to serve its purpose, potentially overshadowing the main crux of the plot.


In the second half, after Liv and Carol meet the grandmother, Borrowed Time’s thematic focus switches from that of Lady Bird-esque [Greta Gerwig, USA, 2017] teen angst to a much more sorrowful message about the time that we have on this planet and who we choose to spend it with. Writer-director Ginevra Gentili crafts authentic dialogue, delivered especially poignantly by Clarke. Contrary to other somewhat dull opening settings of train stations and car interiors, here, Gentili takes advantage of cinematographer Jackie Teboul’s evident talent to make the most of the wonderfully scenic location. A moving original score from composer Kirsten Price complements star Clarke’s noteworthy performance, the actor producing a stirring exhibition, excellently capturing the emotion of the film’s conclusion in a believable way.


Despite the unusual contrast between the film’s two halves, this “based on a true story” short was clearly made from a place of passion by Gentili and everybody who worked on it. The story stumbles out of the gate slightly, but once it focuses in on the real message at its core, the end product is visually delightful and emotionally sensitive.

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