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The Independent Critic

Casey Landman, Travis Mitchell, Jennifer Piech, Frank Di Napoli, Sania Hyatt, Amna Vegha
Alison Hale
18 Mins.

 "Scar" a Tender, Insightful Short Film 
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Writer/director Alison Hale's 18-minute short film Scar isn't the first time we've dealt cinematically with childhood and cancer, though Hale manages to infuse her film with such a richness of humanity and emotional integrity that the film manages to feel fresh and, yes, remarkably heartbreaking. Based upon a true story, Scar first introduces us to Scarlett (Casey Landman), a 17-year-old whose journey to a physician in the film's opening moments is filled with typical 17-year-old bribery including a slice of pizza and a second slice when that one plops to the ground. 

Scarlett is, quite obviously, a free spirit whose sudden symptomatology doesn't arouse initial concern because, well, she's a 17-year-old and 17-year-olds are invincible. 

Until they're not. 

At a mere 18 minutes, there's no denying that Scar moves quickly. Hale hits all the necessary notes, the emotional lows and highs, necessary to tell a complete story about a young girl suddenly facing an adult world when she's diagnosed with Lymphoma and her previous days of high school parties and chilling out with her best friend (Amna Vegha) are replaced by rounds of chemo and fierce wonderings about what her life will be like even if she survives. 

There is a remarkable scene early in the film that helps to set its emotional tone as Scar and her father sit silently in his truck, the news having been delivered and all the stages of grief seemingly spewing forward at once. It's a stunning scene both beautifully acted and wonderfully shot by Hale. 

Hale masterfully portrays these types of scenes throughout the film's slight yet impactful running time. We see Scar's practical numbing out as her father (Travis Mitchell) attempts to learn her medication regimen and we see a remarkable scene of vulnerability between Scarlett and her mother (Jennifer Piech) that seemingly sparks a shift for Scarlett amidst the uncertainty of everything going on. 

This entire ensemble cast is remarkably strong, though there's little denying that this is Casey Landman's film and Landman absolutely delivers with a performance that runs the gamut from childhood playfulness to intense anger to smothering fear to that awkward space between childhood and adulthood where she is suddenly forced to live. This was only Landman's second role, though there's no surprise that several others have already followed. She's a promising actress who should have filmmakers knocking on her door. 

Evan Murray's original music for the film avoids the maudlin with a score that still resonates emotionally and serves as a nice complement for the film's emotional journey. 

Scar has already proven to be successful along its festival journey and this is deservedly so. Even the film's poster is mesmerizing, a strong indicator of the remarkable journey we're about to experience. If you get the chance, Scar is a short film you'll definitely want to check out. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic