Grief is a process – its five stages are pretty well known now, but no easier to go through; and the future, with new technology and medical advancement, will probably hinder this natural emotional process even more that we do ourselves.
In Partitioned Heart, written and directed by Matt Morris, a father finds a way to verbally communicate with his dead son through his computer, keeping him alive in an .exe file.
But, while the father is still in the denial stage of his son’s death, the latter has fully accepted his own demise and wants his father to erase him and let him go.
With very little exposition, Partitioned Heart is not really a sci-fi, Black Mirror-ish short film (there is no explanation on why this file exists, how it came about or how it works) but rather a character-driven story about this denial stage.
The two great actors – Travis Mitchell (Ghost Light (TV), Reina) (the father) and Malik Uhuru (Wade (Short), Catch 22) (the son) – are the pillars on which the short movie stands: Travis Mitchell especially gives a great and captivating performance, a crucial element as most of the short film focuses on his face and the emotional journey he goes through.
Malik Uhuru, while only here by voice, is also really good and even brings something really interesting to his character: instead of channelling a monotone voice (to mimic a machine) or dramatically show pain in his voice (as the character himself states that he wants to be erased because he is in pain), Malik brings life to his character, makes him feel as real as if he were physically here, and even tinges his delivery with annoyance, like a teenager who wants his parent to let go and let him be independent.
This acting decision (whether taken by the filmmaker or by the actor alone) brings another layer to the short film that I found quite interesting.
Some editing choices are slightly confusing, and some shots could have been clearer as well (while a sign of the father’s obsession with the file, the beer bottle in the foreground of each shots of the computer screen is too distracting, for example), but overall Partitioned Heart is well-shot and professional-looking; and even though the subject matter is not exceptionally original, it still manages to feel new thanks to its actors.