June Butler takes a long look at Patrick Maxwell’s short Gone.
Coming in at a little over 15 minutes in length, this short is well worth viewing. Paul (Ryan Andrews) returns to his childhood home following a bereavement. Atmospherically bleak from the onset, opening shots show Paul passing through the yard of a block of flats as he trudges past clothes lines and graffiti daubed walls. Along the way he is greeted by an old friend who empathises with his loss. Paul’s arrival is marked with sadness, becoming further highlighted as he empties the old flat he once lived in.
The story is imbued with meaningful glances between characters – they relate more to what is not spoken than to what is. Dialogue is limited but this only serves to ameliorate the narrative and give greater portend to what is being said.
One thing that sets Gone apart from other short films is its ability to allow viewers come to their own conclusions and audiences will thank director Patrick Maxwell for it. A short film needs to embrace the story and does not have the luxury of character development – rather delving quickly into the narrative is a key component. Maxwell does this deftly and with great skill – almost unnoticeably, audiences are placed centre stage, at the heart of unfolding drama and with careful timing, Maxwell drops small pieces of information into the story as it moves along – there is a sense of loss – betrayal comes to the fore and remains key as the narrative begins to quicken its pace.
In the final act, tragedy strikes with the story coming full circle. Remaining mysterious to the last, Gone elicits questions from viewers long after closing credits.