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The Independent Critic

Paris Warner, Stefania Barr, David H. Stevens, Stacey Jenson
Matthew Webb
8 Mins.

 Movie Review: The Glade of Ardet Lili 
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Esther (Stefania Barr) and Mabel (Stacey Jenson) present rather spritely and with instant intrigue in writer/director Matthew Webb's fantasy/horror short The Glade of Ardet Lili, a captivating little cinematic wonder that follows Esther and Mabel as they saunter through a forest to gather mushrooms and whatever else catches their eyes. The Glade of Ardet Lili does very little to explain itself early on, our enchanted ladies seemingly familiar with this glade in which they find themselves and their dress would seem to indicate an early 19th century setting abundant with nature. Our young women give hints of religiosity, though this is a film that leans more into mystical fantasy. It feels like a bit of a dark fairytale early on and this becomes more evident as the story unfolds. 

As the two women stop to partake in their bounties, an ethereal aura envelopes us. They are both satisfied and unsatisfied. Esther gives into her desires and heads out for more mushrooms and a mysterious stone that deepens our immersion in what increasingly feels like a dark presence. This presence, Ardet Lili (Paris Warner), so completely overwhelms Esther that Mabel seeks the aid of a nearby priest (David H. Stevens). 

The Glade of Ardet Lili is a beautifully realized eight-minute short film that immerses us in the world created by Julien McGregor's magical yet menacing lens and Christopher Doucet fantastical original music that is playful until it isn't. Derek Wride edits the film to maximum effect with work that far surpasses what we typically expect in short films. Faina Rudshteyn's makeup work for the film is nothing short of impressive. 

The Glade of Ardet Lili is the kind of film that lingers in your mind and leaves you wanting to watch it again even as the closing credits roll. Webb's storytelling is intelligent and intuitive and he clearly understands the power of the non-verbal to speak beyond the spoken word. The Glade of Ardet Lili is a thought-provoking, emotionally honest short film that most certainly should appeal to fans of the indie short scene. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic