REVIEW: ‘Waiting’ (2020) is Short but Highly Impactful

★ ★ ★ ★

“Intimately portrays depths of emotion with only action.”

The number one rule in film is ‘show, don’t tell’ and filmmaker Anthony Hett encapsulated the beauty of this concept perfectly in their short film, Waiting. There is absolutely no dialogue in Waiting, yet a fully developed and emotionally deep story is portrayed. Though the lack of dialogue may sound like a gimmick that could get tiresome, that isn’t the case in this short. In fact, it will take the viewer a while to even notice there is no dialogue as the story is translated so effortlessly that it’s easy to forget words are even needed to communicate.
Waiting offers a snapshot into the everyday life of an elderly woman (Cleo Sylvestre) getting ready to spend the day with a loved one. We see her choosing her favourite dress, matching her earrings, styling her hair and we bask in her warm smile as she admires her efforts, barely able to contain her excitement for the day ahead. She ventures out and waits for her loved one at the nearby bus stop, her hopes rising even further with each passing car. She watches the world pass her by as she waits… and waits… and waits.
Sylvestre intimately portrays depths of emotion with only action – we are with her from her restrained yet delighted excitement in the morning to her sinking disappointment as her wait continues. She carries the film alone as any secondary characters are fleeting – our focus is solely on her performance and it’s entrancing.
Waiting is the second instalment in Hett’s short film trilogy, following the first in the series, Letters. Hett explores loneliness and loss in this short, which are themes that carry throughout his short film trilogy. The ending of Waiting also introduces a new theme which Hett explores further in the next short of this trilogy – Scrable. Hett’s series as a whole platforms the reality of being human, specifically later in life where feelings of isolation are more prevalent. The empathy this series demonstrates is truly heartwarming and Waiting pulses with bittersweet emotion. This midpoint to the series explores different methods of communication by experimenting with a dialogue free script and it’s a gamble that has certainly paid off.
A small review of the next short in the series – Scrable – can be found in our coverage of Cell Adore Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award and Jury Award. Waiting is available to watch on Hett’s vimeo page from 11th May, whereas Scrable will be released later in the year in September.