Lexus’ short film winner The Nation Holds Its Breath premiered at Raindance Film Festival’s opening night last night. The Nation Holds Its Breath is one of four films being produced by Joey Horvitz of The Weinstein Company as part of this third season of Lexus Short Films, a partnership between Lexus International and The Weinstein Company to support up-and-coming filmmakers.

Directed and created by Kev Cahill, The Nation Holds Its Breath is a charming short that somehow manages to capture the excitement and communal cohesion that comes when watching a historic football match with the terror and joy of a young couple having a baby. A waiting room in a nearly deserted hospital in 1990 provides the perfect setting for the father-to-be. The waiting room mentality ensures that Sam Keeley’s interactions with Barbara Brennon are honest and poignant, in a way that only that particular location ever manages to bring out in people, making it both believable and entertaining. Cahill seems intent on maintaining a light humour between the various other characters in the hospital, especially the children, whose sole job is to hold the antennae so the doctors, patients and families alike can all watch the match.

“easy and light-hearted, but this fun does not overshadow the depth of both characters”

It is a very self-aware piece of film, and such pithy and endearing comments as “it’s 1990 so of course you can smoke in the hospital waiting room!” give the characters a distinctive voice with the actors able to shine. Indeed, special mention must go to the interaction between future mother (Kate Gilmore) and father-to-be (Sam Keeley). Their exchanges are easy and light-hearted, but this fun does not overshadow the depth of both characters. The fear is almost palpable when Keeley is told there are complications with the birth, the drama of the penalty shoot-out playing in the background helping to create an intense atmosphere.

The technique of mirroring the miracle of witnessing Ireland reaching World Cup quarter-finals with the miracle of childbirth gives the story an interesting twist. Kev Cahill (known for his work on films such as Thor: The Dark World, The Huntsman: Winter’s War, and Alice Through the Looking Glass) shows off his mastery of special effects with some gorgeous cinematography. For example, using ‘fully immersive’ images to intersperse Barbara Brennon’s supremely entertaining sub-plot in a way that both made sense whilst also creating stunning imagery. To top all of this off, the use of beautifully rousing Gaelic music is used intermittently throughout the short, which ties together the beautiful set, people and community which was created in only sixteen minutes.

In all, it was a delightful short showcasing Kev Cahill’s flair for special effects and cinematography. Moreover, the cast had an enchanting chemistry which made the short all the more enjoyable to watch.

Maddie Andrews @Mads_Andrews


Image: Lexus 2016

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