Stunning, that is really all you can say about Jack Reynor’s director debut Bainne. A near-wordless stunning piece of cinema. Atmospheric in its desolation of the time period, what a beautifully haunting film.
Director: Jack Reynor
Cast: Will Poulter, Kelly Thornton, Toni O’Rourke, Steve Wall
During the last year of The Great Famine in Ireland, a farmhand working for the local landlord has hardened his heart against his countrymen to ensure his own survival. But when he encounters a ghostly female figure stealing milk from the landlord’s barn, his resolve is tested, and he is beguiled on a journey towards hope.
With what dialogue there is in Bainne, it is spoken in Gaeilge, but with performers like Will Poulter at hand, you need not worry about dialogue. His expressive face and physical acting tell you all you need to know about our farmhand. He is a beaten man who has clearly made sure that he and his wife are to come out of the 7-year famine alive and be damned with anyone else. His broken body keeps moving forwards; it is all it can do. But time and guilt break all people eventually.
There are so many wonderful choices made here by Reynor; the decision to use some shallow focus brings you further into the film. You are given a visual look at how lost the farmhand has become and how alone he is. The slow pull-ins onto him or his wife are excruciating; we see the pain they are going through, both physical and mental. They are shadows of their former selves at this point, just about clinging to life. The decision to go monochrome is fabulous; gone are all the greens of Ireland that would feel so lush, instead replaced with a greyness that sheds hope from you.
So much work exquisitely in Bainne that you could carry on pinpointing little moments here and there for an age. But, for a sparse film, it is incredibly dense in the meaning of its imagery. The little rocking horse the couple plays with brings many suggestions about what they have already lost but can’t bear to discuss. The fact that the farmhand is riddled with guilt at every turn only haunts you.
The poetic nature of the story also works in its favour here; we are not explained every little detail; we are shown visually and made to pick up the pieces from what we see. So even in those final couple of minutes, nothing is overly explained, the symbolism takes a grip of Bainne instead, and you wouldn’t have it any other way; in all honesty, such is the film’s success.
Bainne’s finale is an emotional one and not something that will be spoiled here. The fact that for the 18 minutes we have, over half of it is setting the scene is great. Poulter is something else here; he brings so much under-the-radar presence to the role of the farmhand that he drags the film along.
Reynor has the brightest of futures as a filmmaker ahead of him if Bainne is anything to go by. He has paced his film to perfection, with it not needing any extra time to tell its story. Would we love to be in this world for longer to understand more about what we see? Of course, but maybe that is for another time; for now, we can lavish praise on Reynor for creating a stunning film.
The annual Academy Awards® Qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival will celebrate its 18th year August 11-20, 2022. HollyShorts (HSFF) brings together top creators, industry leaders, and companies and has launched many filmmakers into the next stages of their careers. HollyShorts, a regular on the MovieMaker Magazine Top 50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee list, also engages its community and spotlights short films year-round through monthly screenings, panels, and networking events.
The most recent edition of HollyShorts had six selections nominated for Academy Awards this year with two wins for Aneil Karia and Riz Ahmed’s The Long Goodbye and Ben Proudfoot’s Queen of Basketball.
HollyShorts Film Festival will take place in-person at the TCL Chinese Theaters in Hollywood, and stream via Bitpix TV, with the annual Awards Gala set to take place on August 20, 2022.
For tickets to the festival please click here.
For more of our reviews of the festival, please check out below:
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