It’s not often I find myself reviewing anything other than feature length films. Never jumped into the TV scene, and while I love a great short film, they are typically difficult to review, if for no other reason than they are, well, too short to really dig deep into. Every once in a great while a truly special and impressive short will find it’s way into my inbox or will screen at a film festival I’m attending. Lucky for me, just such a film was passed along, titled Leslie. Written and Directed by Alejandro Montoya Marin, Leslie is a quietly sobering tale of a young woman, struggling with inner turmoil, as she attempts to chase her dreams while dealing with some very complex issues.
Following a singer/songwriter, dealing with the typical struggles of true artistry and the patronization of her friends and family, this short film is all about conveying the hardships faced by those who have chosen a less traditional career path. Leslie is an emotionally compelling character driven drama with brilliant performances that are both understated yet brilliantly vibrant. Kika Magalhaes (The Eyes of My Mother) is a stand out, who is able to portray internal emotional depth, without expansive dialogue. Her uniquely crafted performance is certainly, at least partly attributed to the direction, which finds a way to capture the grief and melancholy in a surreal fashion, with low light sequences and beautiful compositions that feature no wasted space. The narrative structure is simple enough, and the compressed format of a short film keep the emotional weight of the story from grinding the viewer.
What most shorts struggle with is the ability to garner a raw connection with, and emotional investment from, the audience. With such little space to work in, Leslie is a multi-layered tale of hope, love, commitment, and struggle, with the mcguffin being art. It’s brimming with pure unadulterated spirit, and tendered with such care for the characters, who all feel so rich and three dimensional, in spite of the time constraints.
For Marin, it’s clear that this is a labor of love. The visuals are pure and raw, and the set design is simple and clear. The story may not seem particularly unique, but there is something in the way in which it is told, that feels solemnly alluring. It’s a tale of emotional resilience that let’s everyone know that that there is daylight peering on the horizon. With Marin’s vision and deft touch, combined with a vivid aesthetic and sympathetic characters, Leslie is a special film that will captivate. This is the kind of story that stays with you long after viewing. Intelligent, emotional and breathtakingly beautiful.
Leslie has shown at a couple different film festivals to date, most recently at the Hollyshorts Film Festival last month. Marin has said he is currently working on his next project based on a past short, but he is also preparing Leslie to be submitted to other festivals. If you have a festival near you, be sure to check to programming slate to see if this short will be making it’s way to that venue. Also, follow the film and Marin on all social media, including FaceBook and Instagram and checkout the offiial website HERE. Support your local festivals and support independent films and filmmakers like Marin, who clearly has a bright future ahead.