Taking difficult subject matter and putting it out there on the big screen is something that I’m sure we can all agree must be hard to master. The sensitivity you must give a subject is hard enough but when the subject is something like wounded soldiers, it becomes all the more difficult.
Birthday is written, directed, produced and edited by Chris King who has done the same with many short films before. Birthday however, is currently doing the festival rounds and doing very well too. Seen at some 130, with 55 wins including winning the Jury Award at the Oscar qualifying St. Louis International Film Festival.
Birthday tells the story of a marine, Chris Gouchoe (The Social Network, Freaks of Nature) who is severely injured just before he’s about to return home to his wife, Mandy Moody (Hawaii Five-O). He has to have both his legs amputated below the knee as well as his left arm. The short shows how not only the marine, but also his wife, come to terms with his disability and the struggle to come to terms with it and live a ‘normal’ life.
The film makes use of montages, a lot, it’s almost a series of montages strung together, but then I’m not really sure how else King could have got all of the message he wanted into just 11 minutes.
Both Goucheo and Moody are good in their roles, Goucheo particularly stands out although you are left wondering why an actual amputee wasn’t chosen for the role? Instead the film makes use of body-doubles and green screen effects to provide the illusion that Goucheo is an amputee.
That aside though, this is a good short film. I personally think it’s extremely difficult to tackle a subject, such as this, in a short film. To move an audience in around ten minutes is no easy task. I think King just about pulls it off, but I can see Birthday being made into an hour-long TV movie soon.