A Late Thaw (E) | Close-Up Film Review


Dir. Kim Barr, Canada, 2015, 14 mins
Cast: Helena Marie, Lucas Chartier-Dessert, Michelle Boback, Kathleen Fee, Ivan Peric
Short films are a cinematic equivalent to the miniature version of your favourite chocolate bar. They’re compact and exciting, centres encased in an abundance of delectable layers. There’s a beautiful preciseness to the short film format, the audience is only informed of the absolute necessities, the dutiful filler left on the cutting room floor. The only danger is that travelling from a to b in such a short space of time can sometimes leave the audience feeling rushed, no time for contemplation. Yet, the beauty of A Late Thaw, director Kim Barr’s fourth short, is that the above observation does not apply – instead the audience becomes captivated in this world. Barr, who also wrote the piece, perfectly balances the need to tell a story with the desire to encapsulate its audience. A Late Thaw follows Tara, a woman in a seemingly loving relationship, presented with an offer most would dream of – the perfect house. But when she almost rebukes the idea its clear there’s something more going on under the surface. That something is Glenn, her former lover who died years ago.

The film cleverly and carefully explores the emotions of losing a loved one, particularly striking upon those that are repressed. Through brilliant writing, the audience is thoroughly immersed in Tara’s story, so much so that it’s hard not to feel the pain and emotion as she does. The film is a beautiful exploration of how grief can catch you off guard, and it wonderfully shows Tara’s struggle with the unexpectedness of this. To the uninformed viewer alone, this is an incredibly moving tale, but to those who are aware of the parallels of this story to Kim Barr’s own life, it certainly strikes a chord.

Not only is this short emotive, but it is visually stunning, particularly the ice sequences. The use of colours, the bright whites in contrast to the blacks and greys, is a brilliant representation of Tara’s inner turmoil. There’s also a soft focus to the scenes that really catches the eye and invites in the audience.

Marie (Tara) and Peric (Glenn) are particular stand outs. It feels as though both really embody the essence of their characters, whilst remaining sensitive to the subject matter.

Whilst there are a few imperfections – ironically it could be argued their home looks too perfect, staged rather than lived in – it’s ultimately a film with an emotionally haunting message, leaving a mark long after the final scene.

Review by Charlotte Birch