This fast, swiftly edited drama explores the inner demons of Eddie Blaze (Steve Caswell), an under-appreciated alcoholic stuntman struggling to find a way into the film industry. With determination in his heart and a hip flask by his side, Eddie faces up to the uneasy challenges that await him. Shot unnoticeably on an iPhone, writer/director Will Haynes confidently tackles some tough issues.
Sprinkled with tongue-in-cheek humour and led by the perfectly cast Caswell, this fiery drama soars highest with its visual storytelling. The fact that this was shot on an iPhone is inconspicuous and Haynes cleverly creates the illusion that wherever Eddie goes, alcohol follows closely. There are plenty of inventive shots, which range from disorienting to up close and personal. Eddie makes for a troubled but interesting character and perceptible reiteration on his hip flask highlights the constant daily battles he goes through. Caswell’s fitting voiceover also offers great insight into his mind, and his bluntly sardonic remarks make him likeable and sympathetic.
However, the tone can often feel a little muddled, particularly in the film’s mid-section. The opening is bleak showing Eddie’s giant silhouette at a train station as his gruff voiceover talks about the deaths of close family members, but this grittiness is toned down when music becomes more prominent. Even though each song feels carefully selected to fit Eddie’s state of mind, the stop-start use of music can be jarring. At times, it feels like a series of music videos wildly strung together with little effect. The dramatic elements are far more effectively conveyed through Caswell’s voiceover. The film’s foremost sequence is an inspirational (though slightly overlong) Rocky-esque montage, which works best thanks to Caswell’s committed performance.
The offbeat ending feels warranted nevertheless, and the closing montage sees the short out nicely. While it doesn’t quite reach the profound heights it appears to aim for, Eddie’s Reel is an ambitious, smartly directed character study.