I seldom use the word darling in writing or in my real life, but darling is the first word that popped into my mind after watching writer/director Ben McCullough's Wingman, a 6-minute short film with a rather unusual premise that is brought to life in absolutely perfect ways.
The film stars Laura Jane Turner as Red Leader and Michael Gosden as Wing Commander, though in real life they're a bloody magnificent couple who are also aunt and uncle to Scarlett Partridge's "The Cadet," an otherwise ordinary young child who also happens to be their nephew. When the two construct a cardboard plane for their nephew, they soon find themselves fighting off an entire squadron of enemies.
While you may be tempted to say to yourself "Sounds like a cute family film!," rest assured that there's even more going on within the framework of Wingman, a film that becomes so incredibly endearing that you practically want to run up to it and squeeze its cinematic cheeks.
As Red Leader, Laura Jane Turner is an absolute delight. You instantly get the feeling that she's the aunt you've always wanted to have, while she's pretty darn epic as Red Leader, as well. When her partner in battle, identified only as Wing Commander, joins in their epic battle becomes a few minutes of cinematic bliss filled with witty humor, sweet romantics, and an ending that is a little unexpected yet absolutely spot on.
Wingman has already had quite a bit of success for McCullough, an Australian filmmaker with a wide variety of credits to his name, including screening as part of Australia's Top 100 Short Films, as an opening night film at St. Kilda Film Festival and in a variety of other settings. Truthfully, it's hard to imagine a film festival not wanting to get their hands on this marvelous short.
While Turner's a delight, kudos must also be given to Michael Gosden who is, as one might hope, the absolutely perfect wingman here. Initially, it seems like Gosden's character is going to be a bit of a distracted sort yet McCullough's no slouch with the script and the way everything transitions is a joy to see.
Christian Bizzarri's original music serves as a perfect companion to the film, while Esteban Ulloa's lensing is warm and intimate and fun all in one. Tyson Burgess tackles the film's production design, no small task once you've seen the film, and accomplishes amazing things adding to the film's whimsical sincerity.
Wingman is definitely a winner of a short film, engaging and involving from beginning to end and the kind of film that leaves you feeling better after having watched it. If you get a chance, you'll definitely want to check it out.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic