A surreal romantic short film about a lonely young man whose life is changed when somebody decides to sit next to him. Here is our review of director Philip Brocklehurst’s Loner.
I have reviewed a number of Philip Brocklehurst’s shorts over the past 12 months and I can safely say that Loner is one of the best and easily has the widest appeal. It’s a simple tale of boy meets girl but it is set around the ‘meet-cute’ aspect of the relationship. The meet-cute is an often-used trope in romantic films. It’s the moment were our protagonists usually meet each other for the first time in a cutesy way. They then go on to have obstacles put in their path until finally, they realise they are made for each other. Loner is the meet-cute set over 6 minutes.
A crowded street and a circular bench sets the scene for this romantic short film as actor Jonathan Skye-O’Brien takes the lead role as The Loner in this slice of life, piece of film-making. We are never told anything about our characters during the short we are just left to watch and make our own minds up. We assume due to his age and look that Skye-O’Brien’s loner is a student, we are also never given the time frame that the short runs over, however, I came to the belief that The loner is on his dinner break. He then does what we all tend to do on our own lunch breaks, he comes to the same spot every day, sits on the same bench and by the looks of it eats the same sandwiches. He spends his time people watching and we get the feeling that he prefers his own company.
Very little changes for our loner during his breaks, there are no scenes of tension or worry and there is certainly no conflict insight all he does is watch. Brocklehurst spends time showing us the loner’s point of view which is looking at more people and the atmosphere throughout remains tranquil and calm.
This sort of scenario has happened millions of times before on screen but it rarely happens in a quieter, sweeter and nicer way. There is no hidden agenda in this film, there will be no betrayals no melodrama, no violence, or sex it is a film all about its silence and the simple act of observing others.
Into the mix comes ‘The Girl’ played by the actress Holly Williams as The Loner is eating his sandwich she takes a chance and sits next to him. Has she been there long? Has she been watching him watching others? Again this is something Brocklehurst keeps from us however there is a glance between the two then a connection is made and our Loner sacrifices his last sandwich and gives it to the girl in what symbolises acceptance. A sweet scene that reminded me of Brando and Eva Marie Saint on the swings during On The Waterfront when Brando takes her glove.
The only downside to the short in my opinion is the choice of music by Vladislav Nogin as it has an 80’s electronic feel that seems at odds with the film. There is nothing wrong with the music itself it is just that it doesn’t suit the subject matter. I can understand if Brocklehurst was trying to go for a John Hughes-Esque feel for the score of his drama but unfortunately it becomes a distraction to the naturalism and gentleness that is on show in the rest of the film
Overall though I enjoyed Brocklehurst’s eavesdrop on real-life with Loner a story about two nice kids who seem literate, sensitive and intoxicated by the fact that their lives have only just begun, stretching out before them filled with mystery, hope and maybe even love.