What is it we all take for granted more than anything else? Our senses. We don't even think about the gifts we're born with. Sight, sound, smell touch. Oh wait... that's only four. Do you see my point? We've all become so accustomed, that we hardly give these things a second thought. By the way, I'm pretty sure the last one is taste... just saying. It's only when something stops working within our bodies that we really and fully appreciate these senses for what they are. Our windows into the world we live. Lose any of these senses individually and things can get tricky, but generally people learn to live with the senses that remain. What happens however, if you lose all of them? That is a terrifying thought indeed. I tend to think that "knowing" you are going to lose any or all your senses would be even scarier. Knowing that sometime soon, you might as well be in a deep coma. That coma would probably be better because knowing that you won't be asleep, but have absolutely no connection to the world, is the stuff nightmares are made from. Enter S.J. van Breda's short film "Sentience" which tackles this very situation, the one that nobody would ever want to have to deal with. Losing one or even two senses would be hard enough, but all of them, as I've been writing about? Well hell reader - I can't even imagine. S.J. van Breda could imagine it though, and did one heck of a job illustrating it. The concept of this film is simple. Malcolm is a young photographer with a pregnant wife. In the blink of an eye he finds out he's sick, and begins to lose his five senses. One by one, we, the viewers, watch them go as "Sentience" attempts to demonstrate their departure within the film, via some creative audio and visual choices. This is a really cool idea done really well, demonstrating a horrendous situation in a excellent and stylized way. Making this story even sadder than it is? Malcolm's baby is set to be born after the fact. Wow. What a sad yet strangely entertaining prospect. The only question remaining is if "Sentience" manages to pull it all off? The answer? Yes. Yes it does. All talk of the "actual" short film aside - the very title of this movie is one to debate over. What exactly do I mean? I'll leave that up to you to figure out. I was actually quite surprised and impressed with the technicalities of this short film. I'm not completely sure what I was expecting, but "Sentience" far exceeded my thoughts. Visually, the film looks great. Once you factor in the "creative" elements of the production, such as how the loss of each sense is presented, I can safely write I was engulfed in the movie. The main cast, Robin Gadsby and Lauren White, each showcased some excellent acting and I was pleasantly surprised that even the background performers, with the limited screen time they had, added the icing to the proverbial cake. Gadsby's performance was a nice blend of subdued fear and an eventual acceptance of his particular condition. Lauren White's performance, as Ellie, held some touching moments and she "did" manage to show us, myself, that she was indeed scared as well. For both herself and for Malcolm. All in all, acting and production-wise... this was a great title. I was a little let down with the ending. I kept expecting something to change, kept expecting Malcolm himself to somehow overcome this nameless infliction. Never happened. Maybe in this particular case, that touch of realism and the lack of a happy ending was just a real downer. However you slice it, it's safe to say I wasn't a huge fan of how things all turned out. I'll leave that open for other viewers to decide for themselves. In the end, "Sentience" did just what it was supposed to do. It kept me watching until the credits finally rolled. In today's sea of indie titles, that are less than stellar... and I'm being kind when I write that, it's always great when the good ones come rolling in. This film, although short, is one of the good ones. Virtual thumbs up from myself, and a high recommendation to check things out for yourself. A solid four out of five. Totally earned and completely deserved.