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Lemons [Simon Werdmüller von Elgg, USA, 2018]

The word ‘lemons’ is one letter away from ‘demons’, as the clever artwork for this film reminds us. When Edwin, a missionary from Knoxville, is invited into the home of a strange older woman, past trauma bleeds into the house as both characters confront their own elusive pain.

As the characters talk, uneasiness gradually builds up until Edwin discovers boxes of drawings abandoned in the attic. After he confronts Deborah, it becomes clear that there is a deep connection between them that stretches back to Edwin’s childhood, although what this might be remains unknown.

When life gives you lemons...

The obscurity of the pain that dominates this short is surely part of its intended effect, as the characters are clearly trying to reach something in the past that remains just out of grasp. Intelligent visual touches such as the fragmented shots of Deborah and the deep blackness of the half-opened box, gesture to something sinister lurking unseen.

Although this is an effective way of portraying issues of memory and trauma, slightly too much is left in the dark. The film opens with the epigraph, ‘God enters through the wound’, but neither the relevance of this nor Edwin’s occupation as a missionary is fully explored, and it is left to the viewer to divine the links between religion and the characters. Moreover, Deborah’s bizarre reaction to Edwin’s confrontation is robbed of its impact without some sense of a backstory.

Unusually, the ending credits are well worth waiting for. The images of the characters floating in ice tea - each one alone, unable to truly reach someone else - is fitting for the concept of submerged emotions that the film tackles.

Whilst Lemons does contain a few flaws, the artistic shots and the fantastic acting make it worth a fifteen-minute watch.


'Lemons' was a film in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2019.


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