What's that they say about a road being paved with good intentions? It's an ominous phrase, dressed up the same as that used car salesmen we all hear of so often. Good intentions? What harm can come from them? Especially when those intentions simply entail having some fun and meeting some new people? A drink to lighten the mood; maybe even the light partaking of a recreational drug, to cast off those pesky inhibitions. All while traveling that road paved with only the best in mind. And when that road widens to an eight-lane freeway it's still fine, right? Sure it is, but don't mind the ever-increasing amount of potholes and crumbling concrete barriers, they just keep things interesting and besides, you're going to fast to notice them aren't you?
By no means is my feeble metaphor probably the best way to describe addiction, but it quite possibly works for this film by contrasting the slowed down, memory-driven state this movie's namesake has lived in. For Danni, time is the blurry images of a happier life. Being clean means parking her car and replacing it with roller skates. It's all so slow and painful, but at least she's free of the abuse that addiction opened the doors too. Free of the physical pain and yes reader, the emotional scars in the rear view mirror are better than any she could still be facing ahead. But the attraction is still there; that notion of dulling a past pain by revving up those engines. It's at this point that us viewers enter into Danni's life, and see for ourselves the embodiment of a damaged, abused woman struggling to stay clean and sober.
The essence of this short film I've essentially summed up above. What I haven't written of is the how, and "Danni" visually captures the struggle of an addict quite nicely. Her tardiness, the hardships she faces when dealing with any kind of personal relationship, and the loneliness. Her desire to show the world she's fine when in fact, her struggle feels as if it may kill her. Ask anyone who has suffered the abuse of a loved one what life is like - ask any addict what it's like waking up every day sober. "Danni" captures all this and will really speak to those who can relate. Peter Jensen has directed a thoughtful short film that will stay with you long past the roll of the credits.
When it comes to the production elements of this short film, I have very little to write about. Jeana Reilly has written a powerful piece that doesn't come straight at you, rather is broken down and handed out bit by bit. It looks great and for the most part, it's edited and paced quite nicely. It did contain an unnecessary amount of scenic shots for my taste, but never enough to feel overly bloated. I also noticed no less than three background songs, probably more. The tunes did work and did help tell the story, but I couldn't help but wonder if those that did work, had their impact lessened by one or two unneeded ones. When you consider "Danni" is under 25 minutes, having so many actual songs playing in the background runs the risk of making a film feel like a 25-minute montage. This was not really the case here, but if I happened to notice - I'm sure others will as well.
Where "Danni" really hit the mark was with that up close feeling and of course, the casting. Jeana Reilly as expected, portrayed Danni to near perfection - but it didn't stop there. The funny thing about this short film is that everybody seems to fit - from the supporting roles to the extras with dialog. Nobody felt out of place and for a lower budget short film, that's an amazing accomplishment. Both for the cast themselves, and for the director Peter Jensen.
At the end of the day? "Danni" delivers a slick and powerful short film that once again proves one thing. Independent and low budget do not always mean corny or bad. This troupe set out to tell a good, if not a somewhat sad story - and to entertain as it did so. Mission accomplished, a well earned four stars.
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