After some surprising news, Rory and Carla must decide the fate of their relationship on the evening of her 50th Birthday, in Louis Findlay’s two-handed drama Why Did You Tell Me?
Relationship films are ten a penny these days, there are far too many to choose from and they usually follow the same plot structure – boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl again, so to stand out from the crowd you need to try something different. Credit then to Louis Findlay who has written and directed his own relationship drama with somewhat of a twist. In Why Did You Tell Me? his boy and girl have already met, they have been in a relationship for some time and the girl is considerably older than the boy. Set in just one location, the plot follows Carla (played by a very stoic Julie Stevens) and her younger partner Rory (played by our director Louis Findlay) and follows them as they begin the evening celebrating Julie’s 50th birthday but end up discussing the state of their relationship and a surprising admission. The idea from director Findlay isn’t new but there is just enough that is different to keep this 11-minute short interesting.
The one location used is the couple’s flat, so to make the most out of this apartment the director and his cinematographer employ a number of techniques. With what looks like natural lighting, we are also given a distinct colour palette, where a heavy emphasis on browns and de-saturated tones give the film a certain gloomy atmosphere that suggests all is not well. This colour scheme reinforces the emotional disconnect that Carla seems to have with her younger boyfriend and heightens a sense of detachment between each other and the audience.
Brandon Baily’s cinematography is able to set the mood and amplify the tension while adding depth to the characters, ultimately shaping the viewer’s experience and perception of the story. Using tight framing and close-up shots, he creates a sense of confinement which is evident when Carla and Rory engage in their emotional and sometimes psychological arguments. The tight framing makes the viewer feel trapped along with the characters, enhancing the tension and unease. There is also a clever shift in perspectives as the balance of power between the characters changes. Sometimes Carla appears dominant, with the camera angles often looking up at her, making her seem larger and more imposing, then as Rory gains control, the camera angle looks down on Carla symbolizing her vulnerability and the reversal of roles. There are also a lot of hand-held shaky cam movements that serve to increase the emotional roller-coaster experienced by the audience as they become more involved in the unfolding events.
Thanks to his script and directorial ability, Louis Findlay manages to turn Why Did You Tell Me? into a good exploration of a May-to-December relationship, its problems, and its themes. His approach to a more character-driven story manages to garner some good performances from the cast, while the skillful pacing and psychological exploration contribute to the film’s overall effectiveness as a thought-provoking short drama.