Mesmerizing from the film’s opening moments, Writer/Director Alex Ramirez tells a heartfelt story about an ALS-diagnosed artist and her husband who are facing growing marital problems while being aware of their diminishing time together.
ALS is a debitating and progressive nervous system disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle control. Life expectancy after an initial diagnosis is approximately 3-5 years.
The film opens to the haunting sounds of piano keys mixed with subtle undertones (Stephen Flores) which creates a pulse – and emotion for the film. The distorted picture comes into focus. In under one minute, poignant shots captivate and invest the audience in this emotional story.
Elena (Jeaux Bartley) and Adrian (Joseph Rene) are heading out to the shore for the weekend for Elena’s clinical visit. The car ride to their destination reveals Elena’s love for the ocean. Adrian asks “Do you mind if I go grab a beer tonight?” Elena’s internal hurt is evident when she simply asks “Am I going?”
Bartley’s performance is so layered that she is one with her character. Bartley takes on the physical condition as an ALS patient in breathtaking detail. She takes you into her character’s world and the world of being trapped within herself. Elena’s yearning for a life that no longer exists (her artistry and her healthy sexual relationship she once shared with her husband) is palpable.
Rene’s performance is rich. The chemistry he shares with Bartley works beautifully. We witness his own dance with infidelity and feel his simmering frustrations within himself.
There is a point in the film that you never see coming and that is to the credit of Ramirez’s screenplay. It comes in the simplicity of a handwritten note – yet there is nothing simple about its contents.
Elena whispers of “take me to bed” to Adrian feels the most intimate – in an already intimate film. So much so that you almost feel as if you should look away during their exchange. The scene that follows is uncomfortable to watch – for the desperation we witnesses and the emotions it conjures up. The close-up on Elena’s face is an unforgettable moment in the film.
The cinematography (Mason O’Neill Hunsicker} is breathtaking in the film – from the ocean waves to a city lit up with fireworks. The lens also captures something very private within these characters and lingers long enough to have an impact.
There’s a perfect grittiness to the look and feel of the film (Marbel Uvalle). The golden tones, lighting and shadowing bring you into this world. The set design, from the rundown motel to the dive bar, makes this world we’re invited into – raw.
The editing (Jordan Moreno) keeps the rhythm of the film and the viewer locked in.
With the exception of a few moments in certain scenes that felt slightly disconnected – this 28 minute short film is a pure gem. Ramirez reminds us of the power – and message – that great cinematic storytelling can give us.
“I don’t feel like a person anymore” Elena states. There’s a point of no return – for all of us.