By Jude Cole (Portland, OR)
One of the key takeaways from Sweven Films’ new short film Here Lies Joe is that it is not a film about suicide. It is a film about fresh starts and new beginnings and how it feels to feel and be new again.
Co-written (with Pamela Conway), produced, shot, edited and directed by acclaimed indie director Mark Battle, Here Lies Joe is a moving and poignant peek into the lives of two people who meet each other at the right place and the right time. The film hits all the right notes, without morphing into sentimentality, but also without being morose or maudlin. When you consider where these two people first meet, you tip your hat to Mr. Battle and team for injecting as much humor into the proceedings as possible.
The film opens with the title character (Dean Temple) in the midst of a half-hearted attempt to end his life in his car. Before making that step, he decides to join a suicide anonymous group, where he encounters kindly group leader Bill (Timothy J. Cox), the clinically depressed Carol (Mary Hronicek) and the rebellious and poetic Z (Andi Morrow). She’s brash, ballsy and everything Joe is not at this moment; quiet, reserved and uncertain. They immediately strike up this unlikely pairing, even though they frustrate one another, almost immediately. As the film showcases though, Joe and Z have more in common then you think. In many ways, these two people colliding into one another, taking into account where they met, may be the best thing that could have happened.
Screenwriters Battle and Conway have weaved an honest and thoughtful tale. They smartly avoid cliché and the need to make these two characters fall in love. Instead, at the films’ close, they present a fresh start, a new beginning. It leaves the audience wondering where it’s going to go, how it’s going to go? Will they make it?
Battle’s lovely film is crafted beautifully in every frame and it is bolstered by a stellar cast across-the-board, led by Temple’s Joe, who is a study in subtlety and stillness. At the films’ close, Joe is becoming a man who is opening his eyes to the world for the first time in a long time and in Temple’s eyes, you see hope and a sense of peace that has long been missing. Andi Morrow’s spectacular Z, a marvelous, fully realized characterization that brims with humor, anger and warmth, matches Temple beat for beat throughout. Proving as always that there are no small parts, Timothy J. Cox shines in his brief turn as the endearing Bill, as does Mary Hronicek as the depressed member of the group who seems to battle with Z on a regular basis.
Mark Battle is an acclaimed writer/producer/director of numerous short films, which have received considerable raves and recognition from many festivals in the past couple of years. Prior to Here Lies Joe, Battle served up the drama, The Convict (which also stars Temple) to much acclaim.
Here’s hoping that his latest film, Here Lies Joe will be making the same rounds of the festival circuit and enjoying similar successes to his previous works.
Please visit this link to view a teaser trailer for Here Lies Joe: https://vimeo.com/136359825