Review: Ad Meliora

Written and directed by Rebekah Burrows, focusing on the struggles that girls go through growing up in a male dominated society. Starring: Emily Taylor, Emma Scherz, Jordyn Gehris, Alina Cecilia, Isabella Marotano, Savannah Spring, Olivia Fay and Olivia Moreno.

The Latin translation of Ad Meliora is “towards better things” which feels like a very fitting and thoughtful choice for a film exploring certain behaviours, typically demonstrated by men, that need to be eradicated in order to move into a safer world. There are many issues that young girls struggle with and this film discusses what could be considered the key areas where they find themselves vulnerable and negatively impacted, emotionally or physically hurt: physical appearance and consent.

There are a number of different stories explored, each one with its own individual experience to tell but at the same time they provide a collective view of what it’s like to be a young woman between the ages of 12 and 18, although granted some of these issues do persist past those ages. Being a short film, there isn’t a lot of time to give to each actress and a portion of their performances are done via voice-overs of visual recreations but they do well to present themselves in a serious and contemplative manner. It’s a strange thing to compliment a film for, but the fact that not one of the actresses stands out amongst the crowd actually benefits the collective film because it presents them as a representation of women universally. The experiences that each actress is recounting is something that could happen to any woman and the way that it’s told reflects that. However, it does also restrict the more emotional or personal side of each story from coming through, they all feel more factual than revealing something delicate or intimate.

Slowly the world is moving into a place where negative body image language and consent are issues that are discussed, and people are becoming more educated on how their actions in those regards are wrong and need to be fixed. With more and more women finally feeling able to come forward about their experiences of harassment and assault, it allows more a light to be shined on the inappropriate behaviours of men whether it be in the workplace or in a social setting. The same goes for body image, more figures who are in a position to be heard are spreading a positive message about not letting others dictate how you should look and reject the unrealistic standards that a lot of media tries to set. Although the film is brief, it tackles these issues and demonstrates how they negatively impact young women in a concise and accurate style.

However, despite sending the exact right message and serving its intention well, the directorial style feels slightly too reminiscent of something that would be used by commercial entities. The choice to have each actress direct to camera then weave in the recreations, is a little bit too familiar with content you’d find in advertising. Although it certainly doesn’t come across as that was its influence, the style lacks a deeper connection, or a more personal approach. It does still work overall and gets its point across, but it would have benefited from creating a more intimate atmosphere, to connect with its audience and really drive home the sadness and vulnerability of these stories.

Burrows has created something that accurately depicts a number of the ways that young women are negatively impacted society, it represents a universal experience and shows that there is a dire need for change. Its directorial style could have used an injection of personality to draw out the emotions in its story, but it does successfully achieve what it sets out to make. There’s a great message here and it’s more than commendable that Burrows chose to use this format to spread it, it’s effective and facilitates a necessary conversation.

 Verdict: ✯✯½ | 7/10

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