Waiting is one of those slow, simple, touching short films that slowly and subtly reveal themselves. Because of this, it is hard to talk about it while still maintaining a sense of mystery around the plot. Spoiling it wouldn’t ruin the experience at all, but I do believe that it is better to watch it without knowing what will or won’t unfold.
Cleo Sylvestre (“Paddington”, “Woman in Fish Shop”) plays Frederica, a retired widow on whom the camera stays fixated upon during one typical day of her life. She wakes up, puts on her wig, her make-up, her shoes, and goes out to wait, and wait, and wait, and wait…
There is no dialogue at all in this 11-minute-long film besides unintelligible snippets of conversations heard on the streets. Following the “show, don’t tell” mantra, writer/director Anthony Hett (“Letters”) pushes away any expository dialogues in favor of images and sounds that only immerses us deeper into the protagonist’s mindset.
The light and colors are soft, the camera always close to Cleo Sylvestre as if captured inside her embrace. When she brushes her wig or rummages through her jewels, we hear what she hears, the gentle sounds bringing familiarity and comfort. Even on the streets, no noise sounds too aggressive to the ear, as if we were sheltered by the protagonist’s aura.
Yet, as time goes on, although nothing really changes on screen, we start to realize on our own that something is amiss. The spectator’s feelings start to shift from feeling as anxious as Frederica, to feeling anxious for her, gradually, as the wait starts to make us look for the bigger picture.
Despite being such a simple short film, Waiting manages to strike an emotional chord. This is in great part due to the talent of everyone involved in the film, from the cinematographer to the sound department, from the director to the main actress. Every decision made was a clever one and creates a tender film that makes the dull act of waiting a poignant moment to watch on screen.