Amanda Christine, Tucker Chandler, Jasmin Jean-Louis
Kyung Sok Kim
Rex Reyes II
Fest Circuit Interrupted; "Furthest From" Marches On
There's something beautiful that unfolds in Furthest From, a 19-minute short film from director Kyung Sok Kim centered around the life of an eight-year-old girl named Jessie (Amanda Christine) who lives with her family in a run down, low-rent trailer park alongside a myriad of friends and neighbors whose lives may not be easy but they take a certain comfort in one another.
Jessie takes comfort in her friendship with Lucas (Tucker Chandler), whose presence seems to be a near constant companion for Jessie and provides something resembling stability in a world that seems to provide very little of it.
We meet both Jessie and Lucas on what is likely to be their last day with one another, their beautiful friendship interrupted by the discovery of a nearby MTBE water contamination at a nearby lake that means the entire community is being displaced.
Lucas is leaving. Jessie is leaving.
Goodbye is never easy.
A beautiful little story written by Rex Reyes II comes fully alive in the hands of the remarkable Amanda Christine, a young actress who has appeared on How to Get Away With Murder, Colony, and 9-1-1 and has already shared the screen with the likes of Viola Davis and Brandon Scott among others. Christine gives one of the best performances I've seen in a short film this year, her pure innocence matched by aching vulnerability and a quiet, undeniable strength that makes you just absolutely fall in love with her. Jessie's friendship with Lucas feels real, Tucker Chandler's performance more guarded and defensive as he knows their time together is ending and he knows there's nothing he can do about it.
Jasmin Jean-Louis is similarly outstanding as Sam, Jessie's older sister who's often tasked with babysitting while their mother works long hours and returns home well after dark. Rather than trying to build to Christine's dramatic heights, Jean-Louis finds the perfect emotional space to complement her cinematic sibling's performance and is absolutely sublime as a sister wrestling with her own feelings yet filled with this deep well of love for her sister.
Lensing by Teck Siang Lim is extraordinary, capturing the trailer park through the children's eyes while also somehow being fully aware of the starkness of it all within that strangely charming pink trailer and everything that surrounds it. The original score by Brendan Eder is simple yet poignant in the way it matches the rhythms of Reyes' dialogue and is matched to perfection by Cody Berry's acoustic guitar. There will be moments in Furthest From when you won't be able to help but think of films like The Florida Project and Beasts of the Southern Wild, but most assuredly this film definitely has a rhythm all its own.
Having screened at February's Pan African Film & Arts Festival before COVID-19 disrupted the indie fest circuit, Furthest From is the kind of film made for the indie fest circuit and most certainly the kind of film you'll want to see on a big screen if you get the chance. A myriad of emotions blossom on the screen in the film's satisfying 19-minute running time and Furthest From is a short film you won't soon forget.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic