There is a seamlessness to Do This For Me that betrays you. You fall for these characters, slot in comfortably beside them, laugh with them, that when the screw and pain begin to turn, it devastates you.
Maintaining friendships in your twenties is tricky. Juggling careers, romance and the dread of turning 30. Meet Lex, Gracie, Beca, Kat, and Joy. We all know them, as we all are them.
I will be honest right now; this was initially meant to be a short review couple with other excellent films for a roundup review. However, as the review went on, there was a realisation that Do This For Me deserved its own space. Director Marnie Baxter has delivered us a film so high in quality that if you haven’t already stood up and taken notice of her as a filmmaker, and the cast as actors then you will now.
We sense things are not precisely okay from the off, video messages kind of have that type of foreboding, and while the characters are trying to keep it all together, that thought in the back of your mind comes to the fore and only grows the drunker our group get. Inhibitions begin to let loose, and those moments where normally a tongue would be held are now long gone.
From top to bottom Do This For Me is faultless with its casting. Each actor delivers such a convincing performance that you really do swear you know them personally due to how relatable they are. We all have a friend like Lex, who can seemingly keep it together. We have that friend in Joy (sorry, J) who isn’t afraid to make that joke. Everyone slots together so perfectly well that you are left speechless.
This is a credit to Kelley’s writing that she can so easily give us these characters and have the story build in the way it does. We may know where the film is going, but that doesn’t stop it from being devastatingly effective. The little interactions are also what help Do This For Me stand out. All five performers excel, and with a runtime of a mere 19 minutes, the fact that they are able to throw so much information our way to believe that they have all been friends for years is a testament to their skills.
With that said, nothing quite prepares you for April Kelley’s monologue towards the tail end of the film. It feels as if it was purposely made to devastate you as an audience member. It also feels like it was written for people who have experienced what this group have but have no way of communicating it. There is raw emotion at that moment and upon a rewatch, the entire piece that has you gripped. You feel each emotion in that scene, and goodness, does it have you.
Additionally, with some top-notch direction from Marnie Baxter and exquisite cinematography from Franklin Dow, you fall into the story so much quicker than expected. We are continually positioned as if we are a mate sitting with them. Rarely are we off in the distance viewing events unfold like an unwanted guest in those opening minutes. This is a well-worn technique; however, it works so well that you would be remiss for not noticing it. So when the camera takes those few steps back, it is then when you realise that we are not part of the group and merely observers. The garden scene typifies that we are seeing a moment that we shouldn’t be, and it is from then a fracture appears. This becomes their story, not ours, yet the relatability never leaves.
Do This For Me flies through its 19 minutes that you are disappointed to leave this group. Such is the talent on show in front and behind the camera that you could spend far longer with them. As said and what will probably continue to be said, this is a magnificent film, but goodness does April Kelley’s script know how to wreck you along the way. A fantastic way to spend 19 minutes.
Wednesday 30th March 2022 is Bipolar Day and if you need someone to talk to, contact Samaritans at 116 123 (UK) or email firstname.lastname@example.org (worldwide if in English). If you feel you are in crisis and need someone to talk to please find a list here of people to contact within your country.
An original album with music producer Son of the Sea sits alongside Do This For Me.
The album will raise awareness for mental illness and suicide prevention. Artists include noughties icons The Calling and American singer-songwriter Rozzi whose song ‘Afterglow’ from the film and is out now.
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