Reckless Love [Josh Wichaison, Australia, 2018]
Reckless Love follows a father’s heart breaking grief, and subsequent descent into depression, following the death of his son, and the impact this has on the relationship with his remaining daughter. The topics explored are weighty, and the film certainly packs an emotional punch, however this is often without the class and craft necessary to make the film truly memorable.
Sadly for Reckless Love, some of its weaknesses are laid to the fore right from the very first second. The soundtrack is nauseating throughout, and if anything actually takes away from the performances of the actors, as it completely smashes away any opportunity for audience interpretation of the nuances of their on screen actions. Similarly, simple things, such as the choice of font in the opening credits, highlight a film that is left chasing the rest of the pack, even when it comes to student film.
The writing, directing, and acting performances combine to make an effort that is consistently too on the nose. The father’s traumatic grieving process is highly emotional and relatable in its own right, with the subject matter calling for far more creative restraint and poise in order to hit its marks. Moments of dramatic tension are often rushed and clunky, not given the time to organically build. Tense arguments between the father and daughter should serve as the film’s high points, but instead, simply limp along in slightly wooden fashion.
One positive is the effective use of colouring and lighting transitions to communicate not only shifts in the passage of time, but also in the father’s crumbling mental and emotional state. The short’s undeniable highlight is a classy use of set space, allowing the daughter to stand raised on a mezzanine, and stare directly down on her father while he drinks himself into oblivion in the family living space. The connotations are stark, simultaneously judgmental and angelic. If anything, this is one moment that could have had even more thrown at it. For example, if the daughter were to remain stock still, it would elevate her to an almost otherworldly status, making the effect more stylized. Regardless, the image makes for one hell of a shot for the movie poster.
The dialogue throughout is uncreative, and spells out the character motivations in a way that violates the crucial rule to ‘show not tell’. An example is when the daughter berates her father saying “I’m so sick and tired of you being drunk all the time”. The film is brave and bold in its choice of story, but nonetheless its execution is a tad bland, and is redolent of student inexperience.
‘Reckless Love’ was a film in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2019.