Hanna Stanbridge, Graham Stewart
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Christmas Hear Kids is a 73-minute 48-Hour Film project written and directed by Chris Purnell and co-starring Hanna Stanbridge, winner of the BAFTA New Talent Award, and Graham Stewart, a BBC Newsreader making his cinematic debut.
A thriller shot entirely in Edinburgh, Scotland, Christmas Hear Kids centers around Jamie (Stewart), a cab driver who picks up Laura (Stanbridge) and before long figures out that this woman in the back of his cab is out for revenge against the man who abused her as a child.
A far meatier, more substantial and satisfying film than one usually expects to find within the 48-Hour project format, Christmas Hear Kids takes its "no budget" approach and ends up with a film that is psychologically thrilling and deeply felt.
It helps that Christmas Hear Kids is a beautifully acted film featuring two strong performances from both Stewart and Stanbridge. Without an ounce of distraction, the two are called upon to carry the full weight of the film and they do so beautifully. Stewart gives a thoughtful and unnerving performance as Jamie, a man whose life has moved on from those events of many years ago if, in fact, it's every really possible to "move on."
As Laura, Stanbridge takes the palpable tension served up by Ellen Page in Hard Candy and fleshes it out even more fully with a performance that is simultaneously tense and vulnerable and wounded and just plain pissed off.
Writer/director Chris Purnell is a master of silence, allowing the film's sparse yet meaningful dialogue to fully sink in while also, at times, appearing to allow these characters to sink into the shadows that surround them. While one might argue that such a complex film is simply too much for a 48-hour, "no budget" approach, Purnell uses the tech challenges to the film's advantage by creating a film that looks and feels as gritty and raw as the story it's telling.
Christmas Hear Kids is the kind of film that lingers in one's psyche' long after the closing credits have rolled and you've allowed your attention to be turned elsewhere.
Then, suddenly, you find yourself thinking about these words and images all over again.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic