If you went away to college, you certainly remember how all the uncertainty overwhelmed the beginning, with fear and doubt. So Oscar Wenman-Hyde brings us back and channels through the eyes of two English brothers in Cycles. The entering freshman probably has a lot more on his plate than we did, though. But before his journey can begin, the past must be resolved, and by the end, the 67 minute feature film will make us want to seek what, in the past, is holding us back.
Nonetheless, the outset doesn’t go far beyond the ordinary. The pleasing sound of an easy going guitar strum by George Crabtree introduces, and the feel good continues through the melody. A bright sunny day in an urban college town, the setting is the stuff of dreams for an 18 year old who is about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.
The ease continues when the older brother (Henry Wilson) asks the younger what he’s thinking. “That I’m a long way from home.” Henry Fisk sounds like everyone of us.
They get inside, and the dorm room is bare like it is waiting for the occupant to begin painting his masterpiece. Then the hammer drops.
Big brother cozies up to his little brother with a hand on the shoulder, and you can see how far removed the younger is. Home is the main issue, and the flailing mother that has been left in the rearview mirror. We learn she gave up her life and artistic dreams for her sons, and the fallout has left behind a mountain of guilt in the pair.
Like their mother, both have pursued art, but life has put them on different paths. The older fell in love and followed his mother’s path. He had to sacrifice his passion for painting to the responsibility of supporting a family.
Conversely, the younger is perched to pursue a career in acting and all should be well. This especially, because his brother fully supports him. Instead, the younger questions if he actually likes acting and whether he’s only on the path to fulfill his mom’s lost dreams.
Of course, he can’t help accusing the older of the same vicarious want, and adding in self esteem issues and an identity crisis, the freshman leaves the older brother with plenty to address.
So the chasm spread pretty wide, the siblings hash it out and the enclosed space suggests no one is getting out alive until the matters at hand are settled. All done, minus a score or sound effect, because the events don’t require any additives to get the divide across.
On the other hand, the contrast in personality and delivery accentuates the difficulty and drives the drama. The older’s very casual dress, mildly groomed stubble and freeform hair means he hasn’t completely given into the man, but the look still screams that this is how a sensible adult sustains. The subtext in full view, the older wants his brother to fulfill the same sustaining baseline. Only in the case of the younger, believe in yourself and without guilt, you can have everything mum and I couldn’t.
So Wilson has the emotion spilling over, and the passion the actor portrays has us yearning for an accepting audience. The younger is obviously who he wants a hearing with. Unfortunately, the younger is far from all ears, and despite the straight blonde hair and baby face, Fisk meets the heartfelt attempts with a grown up resolve. One built with a dismissive form of calculating reason that is ready to counter at every turn.
Either way, they go back and forth and gain and lose the upper hand with their points of view. Of course, like in life, when the weight becomes too heavy, the brothers instinctively fall back and let lighter moments drop the drama down the required notches.
The recurring valleys, thus, yield the possibility for closure. The same goes for the natural light that intermittently comes from the window. With Wenman-Hyde’s cinematography, the illumination shines the possibility for a breakthrough.
However, with a mountain range to bypass, the horizon is never beyond the next hill. Your hopes are dashed, and going cyclical, these two seemed destined never to see each other.
In truth, though, we should all have the opportunity to get so real with our lives, because just acknowledging can make all the difference. The paintbrush raised, there’s a chance for the brothers – and Cycles hopes you get the message.