Directed by: Daniel Hahn
Starring: Daniel Martin Berkey, Aaron Mathias, Kirsty Meares
No Man’s Land is a dark and atmospheric tale written, directed and edited by Daniel Hahn. The story centers on a young wounded soldier, Luke Benson (Aaron Mathias) returning home at the end of World War I to his father’s Long Island estate. Luke has been scarred both physically and psychologically and we see remnants of both wounds as soon as he greets his father, Bernhard (Daniel Martin Berkey), with whom he already has a tense relationship with and this is more intensified when Luke’s stepmother, Alice (Kirsty Meares), enters the picture and we see the mysterious dark stares Luke and Alice share.
We immediately get the sense that something dark has already taken place with these three even before the war had separated them and as the story continues we find out that Alice’s public cold greeting becomes the opposite when Luke and she are alone together for which in the end both will pay a heavy price.
The script compares the deception and betrayals felt in war to those suffered in our own homes and examines the aftermath of broken relationships and how, much like war, no one can escape without scars. Here it is re-enacted effectively as we see how far Bernhard will go to punish those closest to him when he feels betrayed.
One of the strengths of this film are the performances of the ensemble cast and how they brilliantly convey their emotions on screen with their actions and gestures, which is particularly important for such a character based story. For a short film the production is first class and in particular the cinematography and score which successfully manage to build the tension in all the right places.
Verdict: A compelling short period drama which could rival any big production feature film.