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The Independent Critic

Ruaridh Mollica, Joshua Griffin, Tomas Palmer
Sean Lionadh
15 Mins.

 "Too Rough" Takes BAFTA Scotland Prize 
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Sean Lionadh's Too Rough has already picked up the Best Short Film prize in both the BAFTA Scotland awards and the British Independent Film Awards, two of nearly two dozen awards for the intense, psychologically thrilling short film. 

Too Rough centers around Nick (Ruaridh Mollica), who awakens hungover and hysterical beside his boyfriend Charlie (Joshua Griffin) with his intensely homophobic and and grossly dysfunctional family only a few feet away. 

I am writing this review only a couple of days after the 2023 Oscar shortlist has been announced and disappointingly doesn't include what is undeniably one of the year's finest live-action short films. The film soars on the strength of its co-leads, Ruaridh Mollica offering one of the year's best performances in short film as an achingly vulnerable young man whose fear and paranoia are palpable. Mollica's entire being embodies the impact of trauma both emotionally and physically, though somehow Mollica never resorts to unnecessary melodrama. There's a simplicity to his performance that feels natural and very, very real. It's a beautiful performance telling a story that is both intimate and universal. 

Griffin, on the flip side, gives a transformative performance as Charlie, whose rambunctious and carefree ways give way to something much, much deeper the more he begins to realize the real depth of Nick's precarious situation. I found Charlie riveting, his story arc rather remarkable given the film's 15-minute running time. It's an absolutely terrific performance amplified by a convincing chemistry between Mollica and Griffin. 

Andrew O'Connor's lensing for the film is perfection, a tapestry of tenderness and emotional terror with each being given equal weight and presence. Lionadh frames the opening visuals sublimely and ensures we're fully immersed in this world from beginning to end. Original music by Eloise Kretschmer companions the film beautifully without ever dominating it. 

Too Rough is the kind of short film that leaves you breathless with anticipation and awe, fully invested in these characters and this story and realizing that similar stories unfold in similar homes around the world. Beautifully and unforgettably realized, Too Rough is one of 2022's best live-action short films. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic