Skip to main content
The Independent Critic

Jessica Ellerby, Dave Johns, Carey Thring
Ryan Paige
15 Mins.

 Movie Review: Making Up 
Add to favorites

London's East End is the setting for writer/director Ryan Paige's 15-minute short film Making Up. The film takes place in the late 80's amidst a gritty drag scene that radiates throughout the film. Ted (BIFA Award-winning actor Dave Johns) is a celebrated drag queen who has been diagnosed with a hereditary illness and is now attempting to reconcile with his estranged daughter Cassandra (Jessica Ellerby). 

It would seem that Ted envisions a grand, swooping reconciliation. However, it's clear that Cassandra has been wounded over their past and big steps aren't likely. 

Still early in its indie fest journey, Making Up has already screened throughout the UK, Europe, and the United States in addition to a screening in Melbourne, Australia. It has picked up 11 awards already including prizes at East London LGBTQ+ Film Festival (Best Short, Best Performance for Ellerby), Soho London Independent Film Festival (Best Drama), and Overcome Film Festival (Best Actor, Johns) among others. 

Paige infuses Making Up with an undeniable ache, a pervasive unresolved loneliness amplified by unexpected illness and broken relationships. Lensing by Edmund Curtis captures the grittiness of the East End setting yet also the vulnerability of these people whose lives we're discovering. These lives, indeed, captivate with Dave Johns giving a piercing, dignified performance as Ted and Jessica Ellerby capturing with quiet power Cassandra's longstanding woundedness yet a sort of emotional olive branch that allows her to reach out in unexpected ways. 

Carey Thring also shines here with a character whose name is Scumbag. This is, perhaps, all you need to know for now. 

There's a rawness to Making Up that is perfectly appropriate here. These are lives not quite fully lived, celebrated in ways yet also filled with uncertainty and a certain painful resignation. This small but mighty ensemble sells it all beautifully and Paige's intuitive dialogue hits all the right narrative notes. 

Making Up is a film to watch for if you get the chance.

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic