First, the Recap:
It’s the ever-streaming, constantly changing, always challenging, and lingering ebbs and flows of our emotional and physical state of being that guides us down the paths life brings, more often than not testing us in our resolve to find a peace and harmony within our daily routine, especially in the wake of loss. When it comes to family in a time of mourning, therefore, how much more important is it that we grasp onto each other? For two alienated siblings, Frances (Chelsea Alden) and Marcus (David Beatty), a time of such pain has come via the passing of their father, causing each to make the attempt to cope with it in their respective ways, but also apart from each other and alone.
For Frances, it is an escape to the beauty and serenity of nature, while for Marcus, it’s a sequestered existence within the confines of his home. Yet, in the midst of this personal strife and accompanying journeys of self-discovery, it has not nullified the dreams they both have and desire to pursue, but rather interrupted the roads they’re on. Through multiple, often highly emotional and volatile conversations via phone, Frances and Marcus find themselves not only experiencing remembrances and regrets, happiness and anger, but a slowly growing understanding, even as they envision the sometimes heated exchanges as if face to face. With the importance of what each is aiming for revealed, it transcends their hesitations and opens up an entirely new facet of the healing process they both desperately need.
Next, my Mind:
Lessons in soul-bearing honesty, unexpected reconnection, and finding out how much we truly need the human bond and the depths of its power to mitigate our hurt shine forth with effective, emotive, and affecting strength in this twelve and a half minute indie short film effort from director/editor K. Spencer Jones. While it’s understood a hard loss is driving the initial actions and choices these two estranged siblings have taken and made, this reviewer still feels the film showcases the fallibility we have as people in wanting to isolate ourselves in times of high stress or, in this case, overwhelming mourning rather than immediately seeking the comfort of those closest to us, especially family. There’s certainly nothing wrong with personal mourning, but as we hear the conversations between Marcus and Frances, it becomes clear how much they’ve let their father’s passing initially becomes more of an obstacle between them rather than an evidently needed catalyst, albeit tragic, to force them together again.
But, as their phone calls move forward, there’s a blatant shift in their thinking, as the armor comes off, the walls come down, and a new level of realization is discovered that will forever change their lives. In addition, it’s a commentary on our pursuit of dreams, wanting to make a difference, to leave a noteworthy mark on the world, which is very acutely highlighted in the current career path Marcus is undertaking during this time of distress, much less the primary focus of said road…to find a way to briefly yet stirringly and accurately define humanity. Beautifully shot cinematography captures both the tranquility of what Frances is surrounded with vs. the more cold, start atmosphere Marcus seems to have hidden himself away in within his home. Alone this almost speaks to the reality of the now vs. what is really needed by both individuals, and by the films excellently crafted finale, it certainly leaves an indelible impact on the viewer.
Alden brings an overall outwardly quiet yet inwardly loud presence to her role as Frances, a woman fleeing to the “away-ness” of the outdoors to find the consolation she requires in the wake of her father’s passing. Yet, despite the heaviness of this news, it at first seems like she has no desire whatsoever to be present for the service being prepared for, much to her bother’s consternation. The reasons, excuses, and returned accusations she flings back at Marcus over the phone speak to the true hurt she’s experiencing, but it’s only when she’s vented and reacted to him enough that a crucial and wonderfully sublime truth is revealed by her, which becomes the ultimate foundation for what the future holds in the mending of both heart, soul, and relationship with her brother. Throughout the film, Alden so deftly yet with uncomplicated delivery emotes all of this with both understated and blatant passion and urgency.
Similarly, Beatty paints a sobering and deeply emotional portrait of a soul in conflict and like urgency in his role as Marcus, a man who’s known success, yet finds himself in a place where now he feels totally adrift and rudderless in losing a precious parent. Yet, he’s been given an incredibly important task to achieve that has a world-effecting significance, which Frances tries to remind him of consistently in the midst of their amalgamation of arguments and laughter as they reminisce about their father and their lives as a whole. It showcases Marcus as both the frustrated and concerned sibling that he is to Frances, with his ardent insistence she be present for the funeral service even if just as a favor to herself and not anyone else. Watching this multitude of attitudes and sentiments cascade forth is very well performed by Beatty, lending a total believability to his character.
With only a cast of two, there are no supporting players here other than the set pieces that so keenly portray the state of being each character is existing in, one of which that will become a visual representation of the newfound freedom with each other about to break through. Therefore, in total, “The Human Project” is an elegantly conceived and executed character drama that so splendidly captures and exposes the depths of the heart with the boundless expanse of the stars and wraps it into a perfectly accessible, human account.
As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you reading!