For Heidi is one of those touching, gentle dramas that simultaneously makes you smile and well up due to the performances. Lucy Campbell has created a beautifully stirring short film.
Thirteen-year-old Heidi is sent home from school for breaking the rules with a giant blue and black mohawk.
Lucy Campbell never feels the need to spell out what her characters are thinking or meaning in her latest short film, For Heidi. She, along with co-writer Fleur Adcock, instead shows us visually what they are going through. Heidi’s impressive hairstyle (I will never not be impressed by foot high mohawks) isn’t some teenage show of rebellion against the rules of her school. They are far more than that; we understand that just by watching her friend Dee look at pictures on a fridge. This careful consideration of the story and these characters pulls you into this brilliant 9-minute film.
What you love about the characters that Campbell has written here in For Heidi is that they are all aware and considerate. They are written like real people. Heidi has obviously spoken about what she will do with her hair with her father, who has approved it. There is no over-the-top shock or anger, just defeated acknowledgement. He knows this is what she wants and has researched it in the school’s policies to ensure she shouldn’t be removed from class. It’s parenting at its best and most wonderfully sincere.
With her best friend, Dee. She knows the pain her best friend has gone through, and while she may not have been aware of the hair and style that Heidi would pull up in on her skateboard. Dee is united with her. She will not leave her best friend to suffer alone, no matter if she misses a maths test. So, when we get that beautiful moment at the end of the film, you couldn’t feel more connected to the two characters and their devout friendship with one another.
Chloe Lea shines as the determined Heidi, a girl trying to figure out her way in her now complicated life and, after finding an avenue to venture down, accepts the support of those close to her to help her through it. You are pulled by Lea’s performance the entire film; she sees how her character is dressed in For Heidi and thinks you have her pegged. Kicked out of school for dressing too far into the extreme, you would almost be certain she has an attitude. However, Lea gives her character so much heart that you back her, just as Dee and her dad, Tom, have. To see someone going through so much break into a smile to know they are not alone is always rewarding, and Lea ensures we know she appreciates her circle.
Aliyah Soyinka does some great work here as Dee. It could be a role almost thankless as the second string to Lea’s lead, but Campbell and Adcock give her her own moments, too. She is our eyes into Heidi and Tom’s world, allowing us to understand the family’s story. When you are a teenager, she is exactly the friend you want by your side. One who will double-down for you, if necessary, Soyinka’s performance makes you grin with how she ensures her friend is certain who is on her side.
Delroy Brown is only here briefly in For Heidi, but his influence is felt strongly in the family dynamic. Instead of wallowing, he is there for his daughter and just says that they should have some tea and toast. It’s a perfect little moment of reassurance that comes up again later in the film. He plays a father who is doing everything he can to support his daughter and endeavour that her voice is heard. We see him hurting, and like Heidi, it pains you. It feels all too authentic in his and Lea’s performances, which is a testament to how well the performer and script find each other to hit those perfect notes.
For Heidi, it is the perfect length for a story like this. It is a brief glimpse into the world of grief, not one that wallows in what was lost, but a film that shows us the power of having someone by your side to help you. Tom and Dee never judge; they accept and work out how to progress. Yet, they will never forget, and that is important to all three characters. We always see a strong unit here. Lucy Campbell has excelled herself with this film.
The Bolton International Film Festival is running physically from October 4th – 8th and Online from the 11th – 22nd October. For more information please click here.
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