There's something about this kind of film that gets me every time, and it generally happens in an almost mathematical way. Cancer equals sadness and sadness is slowly subtracted from the equation. The final result is usually, hopefully, a measure of elation and self-worth. A negative turned into a positive or at the very least, a balancing of the numbers. In "As One" from writer Tawny Sorensen, that percentage of sadness and grief never truly exits stage left, but it is balanced out leaving it's viewers - me - with a big helping of hope. Because at the end of the day, hope is what a person is left with when the world goes to shit. Sometimes however, it takes a good pair of sneakers to get there.
The spoiler free quick version of "As One" is pretty textbook. Married couple Mike and Jill decide to begin running, in no small part due to Mike's constant badgering. Things are going well and Jill is quickly getting into stride when the unthinkable happens. Mike collapses. As it turns out, Mike has cancer and passes away. Leaving Jill devastated but determined. She joins a running team in support of cancer research and attempts to at least keep her grief at bay. What follows is Jill's struggle with the loss of Mike, and her attempt to come to terms with what's happened. All while training with her new teammates and attempting to find the strength to open up to the world again. Some pretty big shoes for a dramatic short film, but with David Spaltro's direction and a great script, "As One" never falls flat.
Production notes for "As One" will be pretty brief. First and foremost, the acting is pretty great for a low budget indie film. Tawny herself portraying Jill just felt right, no doubt because she wrote the script. The supporting roles, including that of her deceased husband Mike, were also handled excellently. At no point did any of the troupe pull me out of the film. The correct amounts of touching moments existed to make me feel some real sadness, but never more than needed.
The pacing of the film, pun intended, also worked really well. Short films have a tendency to either go to quickly, to get all the information out - or be very slow and miss certain beats. Not here. "As One" moved along just right to me, and most definitely didn't cross that finish line before it should have. All in all, from a production standpoint I have no real complaints.
For what it's worth, I really enjoyed this one. It's tough to explain how a person can enjoy a film, and be saddened by the content at the same time. Yet here I am, writing just that. Dramatic movies of cancer and loss are everywhere today, but that doesn't mean they have to all be crammed in the same box. "As One" may be familiar, but not to the point of being left behind. A solid short film and highly recommended.