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The Independent Critic

Helena Marie, Michelle Boback, Lucas Chartier-Dessert, Ivan Peric
Kim Barr
14 Mins.

 "A Late Thaw" Selected for the Short Film Corner at 69th Cannes Film Festival 
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Writer/director Kim Barr says about grief that "Grief is universal, and comes in many forms, but those who have not experienced loss don’t get it until they do. Even after the worst of it has passed, we carry some of it with us. The good news is that each time we cycle through the grief we create space in our psyche, which frees us to live and love again."

I must confess that my own grief over the suicide of my wife many years ago, cycled through many times yet periodically rising to the surface when life seemingly randomly dictates readiness for a space of my mind and and heart to be cleared, rose to the surface yet again after watching Barr's thoughtful and emotionally honest short film A Late Thaw, a film she acknowledges is inspired by her own loss of a boyfriend in an ice climbing accident when she was a mere 19-years-old.

As Barr captures so poignantly in her 14-minute short film, it can often be life's most joyous moments when our minds take us back to those days of loss and grief and despair. In A Late Thaw, Tara (Helena Marie) is a woman whose boyfriend (Lucas Chartier-Dessert), is ready for a new level of commitment in their relationship and presents to her the perfect house. Caught somewhere between joy and vulnerability, Tara realizes that she must deal with her memories of Glenn (Ivan Peric), whose memories continue to envelope those spaces within her where new love and new life could grow.

A Late Thaw is a slice of grief, Barr wisely avoiding any attempt to capture in its often overwhelming fullness. Instead, A Late Thaw quietly captures grief at that point we might call a bridge between past and present. It is our choice. Will we cross the bridge and open the spaces in our hearts to another life? Or will we instead stand along the shoreline hoping and longing for something different yet holding ourselves back from reaching it?

The choice is ours.

Barr has acknowledged that in one version of her script for A Late Thaw that she treated the short film as a comedy, yet she realized she was truly only deflecting the issue. Instead, she dove right into what was likely one of her life's most emotionally fragile and life-changing experiences and in doing so beautifully captured the thoughts, feelings and those hard to reach places that demand perseverance and patience. This journey is captured quietly and with remarkable authenticity by Helena Marie, a beautiful young woman whose ability to reveal her shadow is essential to our buying into the truth of her story. The film, of course, very much centers around her but Lucas Chartier-Dessert, Ivan Peric and Michelle Boback are stellar in supporting appearances.

Benoit Beaulieu's lensing elicits an intimacy that allows us to feel like we've somehow joined Tara on her journey, while Elisabeth Williams's production design beautifully weaves togethet remnants of past and present. Barr, much to her credit for a story tinged with personal relevance, avoids intellectualizing while intelligently portraying one of life's most emotionally indescribable journeys.

For more information on A Late Thaw, visit the film's website and if you are privileged to get the chance be sure to check it out as it continues on its festival journey.

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic