Dealing in traumatic stories is definitely nothing new when discussing film. It's a universal tool for most any story teller, that can be added to near any genre for an extra layer of depth. Even some of our most beloved and hilarious comedic movies have some sort of traumatic event during their length. But the trauma of a dramatic flick really allows a talented actor to strut their stuff, and can deliver an extra helping of emotions to even the most unemotional of viewers.
"Nightingale" is one such drama. A chilling and sad yarn that uses the most horrific of situations as a springboard, to explore the deepest and most brutal aspects of love, grief, and loss. A topic that even now, in today's calloused world, is usually not the centerpiece of dramatic fiction, rather left somewhere in the background, as said story prefers to explore the indirect consequences rather than the direct ones. What topic am I writing about? The death of a baby and the immediate impact. This dramatic angle may not exactly be a new one, but it's definitely not a common one. Especially for a short film.
Paced out in a nonlinear fashion, Edward Palmer has woven together a quick movie that is anything but confusing. Using the jumbled up timeline of the film more like a character than anything else. It was a decision that could have backfired, but most definitely does not. The back and forth nature of "Nightingale" helps reinforce the inner workings of the two main characters - jumbled, angry, and simply trying to deal with the unthinkable. It helps highlight the emotional strain, the blame, and ultimately drives the emotions of the characters down the viewer's throat. Put simply? It all works - and let me just write this reader, "Nightingale" is a sad story. No question.
I'm not even going to write much about the technical aspects of this production, except to say it looks and sounds great. By great, I mean that it looks top-notch, in a very atmospheric and conceptually fitting way. The portrayals of our two grief-stricken parents is handled excellently, and never feels fake or overdone. Even the supporting cast hit all the marks, further pulling the viewers into the abyss. The parental version of the most hellish of events, coupled with the aftermath, will easily leave most viewers with a gutted, empty feeling. Mission accomplished.
Writing that "Nightingale" is a great short film feels so very wrong, considering the content. That's the point though. To give it's viewers at least a tiny glimpse of true, unbiased sadness and grief. The old adage, "I can't even imagine?" Well reader, it feels trite and worthless to those who have lived it, to the unlucky who have experienced it. No, you really couldn't imagine something like this unless you've been there. Edward Palmer and his troupe however, offer up that tiny glimpse of what it must be like. It's about as far as I'll ever want to go with the subject matter of this film. More than enough actually. Four and a half stars and highly recommended.