It’s Not You (2013): Short Tug of the Heartstrings (Review)


Written and directed by Sophie Peters-Wilson, who also shot and edited the film, It’s Not You is a short tug of the heartstrings.  A dissolution of a marriage and the parents breaking the news to their only child prompts a short sharp trip down memory lane for the child. 

At just under four minutes the film lasts about as long as a flashback or three, in this case,  of a series of events leading up to the announcement.

As the mother (Sara Ruth Blake) explains to her daughter (Abigail Spitler), while dad (Timothy J. Cox) silently,  that it is not her fault the kid has three memories.  Each features the family idyll; love, laughter, and a warm atmosphere.

Having an ice cream in the park, preparing  for a family night out,  and preparing something in the kitchen are the there scenarios that play thought the girl’s mind. Each event changes in significance once she learns of the divorce plans.

It is also clear that the mother is “editing” the circumstances in order to protect the kid from the truth. A reality that is self evident in the second memory of each scenario.

Aside from Sophie Peter-Wilson proving that  Robert Rodriguez has not cornered the market on cottage industry film making,  she has produced a film that encompasses much in the least amount of time possible.  She also shows that hindsight is indeed 20/20.

For a short film so short, it could be classed as a “Flash-film,” the director has wrung an enormous amount of emotion and feeling from the performers.  (Cox’s tearful countenance at the start speaks volumes. While his character is not perfect, his pain at the thought of losing everything is right there in his eyes.)

The short vignettes show two sides to each story.  The “happy families” side and then the real, less perfect, presentation of what really happened.  All the actor’s rock their short time in front of the camera. Blake’s performance is shows both sides of the coin fully in the child’s memories.  Spitler, like Cox earlier, speaks volumes with her eyes, accented brilliantly by her glasses, at the end of the film.

It’s Not You is a powerful bit of film making. Succinct story telling that resonates in under four minutes. One can only imagine what Peters-Wilson could do with a bigger budget and more time.

The film looks crisp, clear and is perfectly framed.  The editing is sharp and equally clear, there are no muddled moments in this short film at all. The director uses sound to  muffle the more intense moments, showing how the child would remember them. In essence showing that the words exchanged between the adults are not as important as the emotions exhibited.

It’s Not You is splendidly crafted from screenplay to the final edit. The film may not be perfect but it is damned close.  This is a 5 star effort  that evokes so much in so little time. Catch this one and keep an eye out for this talented director, writer and cinematographer.

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