I Know You is a solid short film that leaves you pondering what you would do in our protagonist Gerard’s shoes. Do you agree to what has been asked by those you left behind, or do you stick to what you feel is right?
After his brother falls seriously ill from a stroke, runaway, Gerard returns to Northern Ireland and his family home. He must confront the memories and regrets he left behind.
Returning home when a family member has just been diagnosed with an illness or even a death is a well-worn trope in dramas. However, Colm Herron’s I Know You gives us some impetus to the proceedings. While some of his family may be indifferent to seeing Gerard back to see how the oldest brother is, this time, he is the one who has to make a decision.
But rightfully, as someone who has been away for so long, does Gerard feel he is even a part of this family anymore? He, of course, has or at least had a strong relationship with his older brother, but if he is trapped within himself because of his stroke, how connected is he to those around him in his family home? Herron uses this conundrum in his film, which he wrote, directed and stars in.
With a strong cast, I Know You allows us to feel for every family member, and each is given their own moments to shine, especially in those fraught moments around the kitchen table. Herron gives his cast ample time to show how conflicted they are with the decisions they are making, and with Gerard returning, he has both increased the need to get a decision set in stone and, through no fault of his own, fractured the family more.
Mark McCauley’s cinematography of the Donegal countryside and surrounding farm is a sight to behold. You fall into a false sense of calmness with his work here, despite the family falling apart with the prospective decision they have to make; when they are outside, away from that kitchen table, things seem a lot easier to manage for them.
Where I Know You falters is in its pacing; it’s a 23-minute film that doesn’t need to be as long as it is; moments have dragged a touch for more dramatic effects or siliques that don’t land. It causes any tension that the script and performances conjure to fall by the wayside. By keeping the pace as slow as it does, you become less engaged with the story, which is a shame as there is a good story here. But it feels like two stories were formed and neither fully realised, so we get this mish-mash of ideas. For example, Gerard’s trip to the pub isn’t really needed in view of the main story.
In my eyes, I Know You is a film about the breaking of a family and the journey in which they can heal again together. With Gerard not feeling a part of that unit anymore, especially as his older brother is in the condition he is in after his stroke, he feels even more segregated. Giving him a side story that is fleshed out is what you would do with a feature; here, it needs to be more constricted and focused for the audience.
What is left is a decent short film, but you can’t help but feel it had all the recipes to be something better.
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