Winner of Best Short at the Fingal Film Festival among other prizes, writer/director Jo Southwell's Deirdre is a proof of concept short film easily described as a darker, Irish take on the Romeo & Juliet tale based on the Deirdre of the Sorrows folklore. The film stars India Mullen (Red Rock) as Deirdre, a young lass in 1970's rural Ireland torn between the seductive world of mystical travelers and the fundamentally religious world in which her mother has raised her.
Deirdre will have a special screening in the city of Cannes during the Richard Harris International Film Festival along with a market screening at the Short Film Corner of the Festival de Cannes on May 24th, 2017 at 8pm at Morrisons Irish Pub.
The film's highlight is unquestionably Mullen, a gifted young actress who manages to work within the confines of a proof of concept short and powerfully brings to life Deirdre's wonder, innocence and the growing tension she experiences in dealing with a mother whose behavior becomes ever more perilous the more Deirdre shows signs of independence and, even more frighteningly, interest in the opposite sex and these unpredictable mystics.
Soutthwell packs an awful lot into Deirdre, giving us a glimpse into what I'm guessing will be a more layered and satisfying feature film that is, in fact, already in development. Deirdre's a beautiful film, Sean Cronin's lensing magnificently capturing the Irish countryside along with lingering, tension-filled shots of the local church. Kieran Boland's set decoration warrants mention as well in the way that Boland is able to create the two distinct, compelling worlds.
Where Deirdre falls a touch short is a frequent hazard for proof of concept shorts - giving the entire framework of a planned feature film while also maintaining a cohesive and satisfying short film. Deirdre's at its best early on in the film, our time between Deirdre and her mother feeling less like it's naturally developed and more like it comes from someplace we've not yet seen. My gut? It's precisely what we'll see in the feature film and I'd expect it to be mesmerizing.
Regardless, for the performance of India Mullen alone I would wholeheartedly recommend this moving and thoughtful film. For more information on the film, visit its official Facebook page linked to in the credits to the left of this review.