“PICTURE WHEEL” is a short-film that recently screened at the SDiFF and it was easily one that grabbed my attention and had me wanting to watch again. Written and directed by David O’Donnell this film stars James Hoare, Elena Satine and David O’Hara. The story is set in a somewhat alternate existence where a person’s memories are worn on their head in photographs. Serving as constant visual reminders that the past can hinder an individual from moving forward with life.
This story is a perfect example of why I enjoy short-films. The concept is fascinating. It’s creative, and while it wouldn’t necessarily be able to consume the run-time of a full-feature project, it provided a wealth of substance in a short narrative. With only a handful of minutes at his disposal O’Donnell doesn’t waste a second. Everything feels intentional, and purposeful, it locks your attention immediately and begins to provoke thought.
The dialogue is minimal but essential to the overall message of the film as the main character is explored and more is learned about him in a somewhat cryptic fashion. It was the visuals in this film however that took center stage for me and as unassuming as they were, they were vital to conveying the intended message. The direction is crisp, it’s very artistic, but at the same time very subtle. The color palette was washed out and it captures the alternate world of settings effectively. The wardrobes and backdrops are all muted of color and it creates a strong visual appeal to complement the plot-line perfectly.
The performance from James Hoare was fantastic. He displays the full range of emotions needed for this character. He delivers the dialogue perfectly to portray his struggles of daily life. But more importantly his physical acting took the spotlight. This character is going through strong inner turmoil and with Hoare’s expressions and mannerisms you can really connect with what he is dealings with as a viewer.
What was most effective about this films ability to build intrigue was that O’Donnell was able to craft an incredibly effective visual representation of how a person’s past memories can hinder their future life. The other characters that live around Elliott (who is the stories focus) are all nothing more than other versions of who he is, all dealing with the hindrances of their own memories. I thought this was imaginative and ambitious. It was artistic and clever because it is something everyone can connect with. We all have memories, they all affect us in different ways, but that does not hinder the ability to connect with Elliott and understand his torment.
I liked how the character of Red played by Elena Satine was the vibrant splash of color in the film. She served as the new memory for Elliott and the possible first step in getting on with his love life after clearly having had his heart broken. It was intriguing how the picture memories would block the viewpoint of Red as she spoke to Elliot. It portrayed another aspect of how our memories block us from moving forward with life and it was all unassuming, but so well done.
“Picture Wheel” weaves many quality film aspects together in a short amount of time and O’Donnell does it with an intricate simplicity that translates to an impactful narrative. I recommend checking this film out if you find it screening at a film festival near you. It showcases a great eye for film-making and it is going to be great to see what O’Donnell can do someday with a larger budget and a full-feature run-time.