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Finale [Anthony Vander, UK, 2021]

Whilst the nation was stuck under lockdown, Anthony Vander’s short film, Finale, refused to be. The film follows two sisters trying to get out of a creative rut. With the coronavirus pandemic primarily marked by periods of collective distress and major disruptions to daily life, Vander chooses to focus on the monotony and stillness that has similarly become a significant symptom of the socially debilitating crisis. As a result, Finale moves gently with an empathetic and grounded lens in this topical piece.

The sisters are Alex (played by Anu Ogunmefun), a dancer, and Bryanna (played by Ama Dwaah), who is a violinist. Although both are experiencing the pandemic together, they each process the situation differently. Bryanna is set on keeping herself busy and active while Alex is having great difficulty adjusting to a world that has become increasingly conscious of social distancing, which in turn has led to less socialising altogether.

Both actors are brilliant on the screen. Ogunmefun is magnetic, not only in her dance movements, but also in her interactions with Dwaah. A particular highlight is her monologue, which is delivered with a careful balance of warmth and weariness, reflecting her character’s inner struggles well. Dwaah’s performance is very understated, bringing a wealth of empathy along with the steadfast attitude necessary to persevere in sombre times. When she plays the violin, the music truly captures that which is left unsaid.

There is a noticeable juxtaposition between the stillness of the city and the movement of the camera. At times it appears intentional, yet it is sometimes distracting in some of the establishing shots, and perhaps here the camerawork could be smoother. Despite this, Eduardo Jed Camara’s choice of shots compliment the feeling of desolation of a city bereft of those who, in normal circumstances, would be swarming to embrace it. Sean Price’s sound design noticeably helps highlight and relieve the tensions within scenes, confidently supplementing the actors as they perform.

Finale is a wonderfully crafted film from start to finish. While there are minor hiccups on the technical side, the overarching story itself is fine-tuned and gracefully executed by the actors. Even without the context of a pandemic, Finale captures the many emotions that can be experienced in hard times on a broader scale.


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