Review: Grab My Hand – A Letter to My Dad

Written, directed and voiced by Camrus Johnson, co-directed by Pedro Piccinini, telling the story of director Johnson’s father, the relationship he had with his best friend and a message of cherishing the time you have with the ones you love. Also starring: Maaliyah Papillion, Eric R. Williams.

It’s such an important thing to have positive influences around you at a young age and this film proves that Camrus Johnson certainly did. As soon as the film starts you can tangibly feel the atmosphere that it was made out of a place of love and respect, learning that Johnson’s father and his best friend used to call each other every single morning to say the phrase “Gate Check” to make sure they were both okay is very touching, it’s a simple yet wonderfully caring act. Then in turn, seeing the two of them show that compassion and thoughtfulness creates a superhero quality to them that the film visualises, putting admiration in core human values of kindness rather than flying or super strength.

The significance and sincerity of this film originates in that deeply personal connection that Johnson has to the story, capturing his love of his father and the man he considers an uncle. He also has such a lovely calm and affecting voice in his narration, which when combined with the simple yet well executed animation creates a very elegant way to send such a thoughtful message. The animation feels extremely modern, especially added to that comic book style, and its fairly minimal, scaled back approach is a perfect vehicle for the story its telling, allowing your focus to be on Johnson’s words. The combination of both create a very well-rounded experience, the visual simply further punches up the emotion of the narration. Although Johnson keeps a fairly consistent tone throughout his narration, he does well to still communicate the emotion of the story, his cadence is a skilful balance of conveying just the right amount of emotion, especially considering the deeply affecting events he’s recounting.

Grab My Hand is a very powerful 5 minutes, it holds such a wonderful message of kindness and compassion and is executed with a strong sense of love and respect. It feels like the perfect way to communicate to all ages how important it is to show the people you love that you care and not take for granted the time that you have together. It was a clever choice to use a simple, elegant animation, leaving the characters visually open to be imagined as whoever you might want, making it that much easier to put yourself in that situation. Adding that whole aesthetic and atmosphere to the fact that it was made as a gift to his father in his time of need because he didn’t know how to express his support makes it all the more beautiful. This is a film to restore your faith in humanity and make you grateful for the people you have in your life.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ ½ | 9/10

Reviewed as part of Exit 6 Film Festival

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