Review: Trio

Directed by Kevin Giles and co-written with star Page Peter Wilson, two siblings struggle to coexist with their vice-riddled single mother. Also starring: Judine Berry and Evelyn Maria Dia.

Almost immediately the film manages to create a strong and affecting atmosphere of love and generosity, watching this brother and sister interact in a caring, kind and fun manner warms your heart. It sets the scene perfectly for what’s to come, it draws you in effortlessly to see the qualities of this young man before the rest of his story is revealed, adding endless sympathy and a desire to protect him. When it does then bring in its more dramatic elements, it does so subtly which fits perfectly with the tone that the film sets and allows the story to bring out the emotions rather than focusing on the grittier side.

That subtlety is something that the film does well consistently, particularly in how in introduces its music element, adding classic vinyl to the set dressing and building that appreciation of music. The film does also have a feeling of rhythm to it, the soft jazz with a modern twist that tops the visual is a great match for its emotional story, it’s also used sparingly which was a clever choice to add a layered feel. It’s impressive how succinctly that influence comes across with the story through those choices and when the dialogue then takes on a rap element, it’s surprisingly powerful and pushes that rhythm it’s built even further. It’s an example of how a lot of people struggle outwardly expressing themselves, for a million different reasons, and channel that into a creative outlet. It’s not a film filled with dialogue so those few sentences really anchor the film and the directorial choices reflect that.

When the film steps into that monologue, it uses very still shots forcing you to face Tre and really hear what he’s saying, which draws the emotion out further when interlaced with his mother’s realisations of how she needs to change. It uses that fairly still, close style consistently so that the moment it breaks away from it, deepens the impact of the emotionally charged scene. One of the other great choices these filmmakers made was to keep almost the entirety of the film taking place within their family home, it keeps the focus on their dynamic and continually pushes the themes of family, relationships and responsibility. The whole style works together extremely well to bring through the drama without losing that subtlety, it’s especially impressive given that there are elements of this story we’ve seen before but where others might have tried to ramp up the melodrama or darkness, this film focuses on what matters, family. It doesn’t show you what happens to Tre outside of his home and it doesn’t need to because it gives you everything you need to figure it out, and it’s smart enough to not take attention away from its core message.

There’s a lot of emotion coming through in this story and to tell it in such a short amount of time, it requires strong performances that can get across those feelings without too much dialogue and these actors undeniably achieve that. With Wilson taking the lead, he creates a complex character in Tre and manages to show a lot of different sides to him which gives you a well-rounded view of someone you could happily keep watching after the credits roll. Dia as Tre’s mother similarly gives a great performance, she really captures that bitter edge and unstable behaviour that they’re going for.

You don’t come across that many films about deaf people despite the fact that there are millions upon millions of people with disabling hearing loss around the world. This film cleverly strikes the balance of acknowledging the disability while showing you that he’s not defined by that. The way that it uses sound throughout makes it a definitive part of the film and explores that side of his life but in a way that develops his character rather than shifting focus onto his disability.

Trio is sweet, authentic, heart-warming, heart-breaking and an excellently made short film. Its style has an elegant simplicity to it but its story is layered and doesn’t forget to add a dose of reality. It has a strong atmosphere, it moves with a rhythm and brings everything together smoothly to make the biggest impact. Where others would have gotten distracted by telling the story of what happens outside the home, this story of family and struggle focuses on what matters.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯½ | 9/10

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