Directed by: Stella Velon
Written by: Stella Velon
Starring: Stella Velon, Alan Smyth, Todd Karner
Short Film Review by: Chris Olson
A meditation on fame, judgement and regret, filmmaker Stella Velon’s immensely impactful short film The Critic journeys into one character’s own sense of self worth through the eyes of a vicious interviewer.
Velon directs and writes here, as well as starring as the central character, an actor who has recently won a significant award for her performance. Instead of basking in her glory, however, she is treated to an intensely scrutinizing interrogation by a male critic (Alan Smyth), who goes through a plethora of tactics to dissect and undermine the central character’s achievement.
Gloriously fierce and packed with substantial emotional heft, The Critic is a short film that benefits from a powerhouse performance. Velon is incredible in this role she wrote and is able to direct herself through a wonderful selection of intense and compelling scenes with skill. The subtle cracks that start to build up in her character’s facade as the questions become more acutely pointed is fascinating to watch, and the audience starts to get the feeling that these interview questions may in fact be personal accusations lobbied by herself rather than a third party tormentor.
The aesthetic is dark and brooding, perfectly complementing the tone of the story, with darkly lit scenes and Smyth kept in shadow throughout – adding a degree of menace to his already unlikable character. In the final third, music is used to spectacular effect by Asaf Sagiv, creating a phenomenal climax for the viewer as they witness the fallout of Velon’s character’s inquisition.
Stories about Hollywood notoriety and rags-to-riches are ten a penny and often the characters are so far removed from the audience’s own environment that few of the themes hit home with any real impact. However, in The Critic, the deeply personal approach that Velon takes and the choice to use a single male interviewer makes this a particularly poignant piece of cinema in the current social climate. Her character’s experience at the hands of this venomously harsh critic is so entrancing in its brutality and should resonate with a large amount of viewers.
Intertwining external pressures with internal angst and guilt, The Critic is a powerful short film loaded with exceptional dialogue and cinematography (provided by the brilliantly talented Akis Konstantakopoulos). For me, a jaded male critic, I would still say this is one of the best leading performances of the year so far.
Watch the official movie trailer below…