Skip to main content
The Independent Critic

Gina Costigan, Ed Malone, Morgan Bullock
Imelda O'Reilly
18 Mins.

 Movie Review: Suspicious Minds 
Add to favorites

As a young lad, I was at Elvis Presley's very last concert. It was June 26, 1977 at the long gone Market Square Arena in my hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana. My 11-year-old self was beyond excited with a packed house and a performer who seemed larger than life. 

Now then, to be fair, Imelda O'Reilly's Suspicious Minds is not so much about Elvis Presley as it is a rather lovely story about two people at a trippy Halloween rave, one a charming young woman dressed as The Wizard of Oz's Dorothy as she's being verbally accosted by her boyfriend. Her inadvertent hero of sorts is Phil, dressed as an Elvis impersonator and whose passionate intervention derails what could have easily gone wildly awry. 

In most Hollywood style films, what follows would be a passionate affair matching oddball to oddball. Fortunately, Irish filmmaker O'Reilly plays everything much more honestly and creates a stylish, endearing, and trippy little short that weaves together animation, live action, drama, music, a little humor, an abundance of heart, and a musical sequence that you can't help but fall in love with. 

The end result is one of 2024's most engaging and uniquely realized short film experiences. 

It likely helps to have co-leads who are so very charismatic and charming themselves. Ed Malone possesses both powerful screen presence and quiet vulnerability as Phil, a man who's long been held by the voice of his father that he carries around with him everywhere. Literally. 

Edna O'Brien once said about being Irish "When anyone asks me about the Irish character, I say look at the trees ... Maimed, stark and misshapen, but ferociously tenacious." I thought about this quote often throughout Gina Costigan's quietly inspired turn as Lola, an Irish Dorothy who is still seemingly looking for her yellow brick road. It's a tremendous performance full of heart, sass, and rhythm. 

There are little moments in Suspicious Minds, a dance sequence featuring American Irish dance champ Morgan Bullock and a lovely musical sequence best left undescribed both come to mind instantly, however, it's the whole of Suspicious Minds that is quite wonderful to watch. 

Lensing by Joe Foley is creative and amplifies the film's diverse creative tapestry. The same is true for Joel Diamond's excellent original music and Karen Boyer's marvelous costume design for the film. 

There's so much to love about Suspicious Minds, a short film currently on its festival journey with screenings set for April 14th at Riverside International Film Festival and on April 22nd at Tucson International Film Festival. I have no doubt there will be more to come. If you're near either festival, consider yourself lucky and be sure to check out Suspicious Minds.

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic