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Short Film Review: Lavender Flame
Short Film Review: Lavender Flame

Short Film Review: Lavender Flame

“My anger turned into a tidal wave”

Recently we reviewed a rather unusual short, whose directors went for a truly epic approach, “Requiem for a Martyr”. As such it was with great pleasure that we received the previous effort by Nicholas Z. Scott and Jud Willmont, “Lavender Flame”, winner of Best Directing at the Shanghai International Film Festival Shooting 48H. The edition reviewed here is the Director’s Cut.

The film begins in 4:3 ratio and with shaky camera , in a style that resembles a home video, focusing on a family of three who seem to be on an excursion in the country. The next scene has the young girl who seemed happy in the video, sitting on the floor of a library, looking at her phone and crying, while the sound of a caller in a mental health hotline is heard in the background. The next scene changes setting again, with the aforementioned father and mother sitting and talking, and the latter stating that her daughter is not picking up her phone. Her father starts painting a portrait of depression.

In the next scene, the daughter is talking to the aforementioned caller, about a dream she had. The next one has father and daughter sitting in a car, revealing that the reason the girl, Jingjing, does not want to talk to her mother is because she abandoned them in some point. Her father tries to change her mind, but the girl is not that eager to change her mind. Eventually, her mother comes to visit her.

The whole short unfolds in similar fashion, with scenes that look like a surrealistic dream interchanging with realistic ones, with the latter also featuring the phone call to the aforementioned help line. In that regard, the rather fast pace implemented by Diao Jiarui, Danniel Ni, Nicholas Z. Scott and Jud Willmont’s editing works quite well, both in the succession of the scenes, and for allowing a full story to unfold in just 11 minutes.

If you like Lavender Flame, check also the video interview with the directors

The comment about how the actions of parents can impact their children is quite evident here, with the fact that the ‘victim’ is a teenager making the whole concept even more intense. At the same time, that for people to move they need to talk to someone, with the hotline being the one in this case, presents the second comment here, one that also suggests that some times, people need to put themselves into others’ shoes in order to understand them and, perhaps, move on.

The most impressive aspect of the short is definitely its visuals, with Kirtan Hummelen’s cinematography and the overall coloring inducing the majority of scenes with a dreamy sense that is quite appealing, even more so when it resembles something of a nightmare. The sound also adds the atmosphere, which is quite imposing throughout, driven by the impactful acting of Crystal Rao as Jingjing.

“Lavender Flame” is definitely an intriguing short to watch, since the overall approach of the two directors feels rather cinematic, as much as the comments they wanted to make feel realistic.