Lynne Ramsay’s Small Deaths was great example of what short films can (and don’t have to) do. Firstly, the film had a very loose causation to it, as there was very much a sense of ‘things happening’. The simplicity of it from a cause and effect perspective is definitely a strength though, as it allows for a richer representation of the film’s mood and themes, due to there being no heavy plot to follow. An example of this is the distanced mood and familial struggles being communicated through the very simple scene of a woman cutting her husbands hair while her daughter plays. This idea of mood and themes over plot is a great one to me, particularly in relation to short filmmaking. Even the fact that the things happening are simple is vital to the controlling idea that small events can leave a lasting impact.
I also found the structure of the short to be unusual to me, as it was split into three parts. Seeing how well it was executed here really convinces me that it is a valid choice, and maybe something to consider for my own work.
Some other aspects of Small Deaths that really stood out to me included the cinematography. The handheld camerawork – often with close ups – was particularly effective, and definitely reminded me of Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin, as did the strong focus on familial relations from an ultimately negative viewpoint. One of my favourite sections of the short was when the children were essentially running and playing in a field of wheat. The way this was shot was extremely compelling, as was the disjointed sound, and also seemed very reminiscent of Terrence Malick’s work, both in the poetic unconventional angles and the apparent interest in wheat.