Imelda O’Reilly‘s bittersweet short film Suspicious Minds calls out to all who have moved away to start anew. A reminder that no matter why you left, if you need to, you can still call that place home.
A romance at a trippy Halloween rave goes wrong. Lola’s (Gina Costigan) very public breakup is disrupted when an Elvis impersonator, Phil (Ed Malone), comes to the rescue. Sharing confidences and ghosts from their past, they reminisce and find meaning in their newly shared bond.
We get some great meshing of live action and animation in the opening of Imelda O’Reilly’s engaging short film Suspicious Minds, and it sets itself up to be something really interesting. With solid performances, it is, in fact, the script and the story that is the real star here. When O’Reilly’s script focuses on being away from your “homeland” and the struggle of effectively starting again, it becomes great; when it deviates, however, it loses some of that power and oomph that grabbed you initially.
For a film that does venture into mixing live action and animation and pulls that off quite well, the decision to shoot day for night is a head-scratcher that is a bit too obvious to not become bemused at. When the Suspicious Minds does film in the dark, they lighting work on characters and around in the park/wood they are in is great, especially with lighting in a scene where Lola and Phil sit down and talk. So, deciding to do that one scene day or night becomes even more confusing.
Yet, you forgive such budgetary issues as the story of diaspora between Lola and Phil is what hooks you. Suspicious Minds becomes a film that anyone who has moved away from their home country and finds another person from said country will connect with. You either automatically latch to each other like a magnet or keep the furthest distance from one another; there are no alternatives. Here, Lola and Phil latch, and it becomes fascinating.
As someone who did move away from their home country when they were young (only to eventually return), Suspicious Minds hits a little harder than someone who stayed a homebird. When Lola asks Phil where he considers home, Ireland or America, he responds with both. That is something that, for many, will be true. Most of the time, you have that soft spot for your home country, where you grew up and your family. But just because that is where your story started, does that make it home for you? Or is home where you make it? Especially if you have yet to have the intention of moving back there. It is the same as family, really. We have our biological family, but you will often find a greater connection and love to those you find along the way.
Suspicious Minds is the case of a film with next to no budget that doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t. It never hides this fact from the audience and instead puts a lot of effort and success into the script. It feels like a cathartic exercise for O’Reilly while remaining a satisfying viewing for audiences.
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