Review: Sometime Else

Written and directed by James Cleave, a therapist attempts to navigate a young man’s toxic relationship issues with his ex-girlfriend using state-of-the-art virtual reality technology. But is his memory reliable?. Starring: Sean Joseph Young, Nia Roberts, Leila Mimmack and Eshaan Akbar.

One of the great devices of storytelling is leading your audience where you want them to go, handing them expectations and then revealing things to not be as straight forward as you may think. That’s what James Cleave achieves here and it’s extremely satisfying. Starting out as a fairly simple exploration of a troubled past relationship but slowly and subtly bringing out the red flags. There’s a raising anger and suspicion which nicely grows in the background, hinting at what’s to come so you can either piece it together or just enjoy the ride. It moves at a great pace, it’s very consistent and purposeful, keeping the progression gradual and slowly reeling you in further.

The directorial style enhances that further with a few different styles, firstly the use of split screen is a nice addition to show the different perspectives and layers to the story. There’s then a great use of framing, both in the closer and wider shots. It adds a subtle but effective atmosphere, which helps to build that growing tension. It balances the two sides to the story really well, the classic therapist (Nia Roberts) digging into the subject’s brain, analytical and questioning, as well as the youthfulness, naivety and denial of Josh (Sean Joseph Young).

Sean Joseph Young and Nia Roberts lead this story with two polar opposite characters, one in fierce denial and the other in search of the truth. Young initially falls into the typical eager to please, naïve and vulnerable young man, creating a fairly classic persona before revealing the layers beneath. Whereas Roberts gives us a very composed, professional and even-tempered personality, but she also gets across the frustration which lies behind that. She then helps to push the tension when her questions become more pointed, applying more pressure to pry at the cracks to the image Josh is putting forth.

Sometime Else is smart, engaging and has a satisfyingly growing tension throughout. James Cleave’s directorial style perfectly matches with the tone of the story. It plays with your expectations, teasing at different possibilities to where the story is headed before revealing its true nature. Sean Joseph Young and Nia Roberts lead the story very well, Young brings just the right level of emotion while Roberts gives us an authoritative presence. It does exactly what it needs to but it speaks to the quality of the short that it also has plenty of potential to explore more.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ | 8/10

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