Why Watch? Tropfest is a massive launching pad for short filmmaking. In fact, it’s the world’s largest short film festival, taking place every February in Sydney, but the festival itself has a truly global reach and an audience of around 150,000. The judges this year (including Sam Worthington) have chosen to award We’ve All Been There with the top honors, and it’s no doubt because of its ability to fold three stories into each other until they become one. There’s a Crash-like aspect here, but this short film is far less cloying.
Jess (Laura Wheelwright) is a pregnant waitress in need of fast cash to avoid losing her house; Joan (Penne Hackworth-Jones) is a middle-aged woman stranded in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire; and Matt (Ditch Davey) is looking for a job without finding much luck. Beyond possibly having the best-named actors in the history of the art form, this movie from Nicholas Clifford succeeds by being naturalistic and pinpointing moments of real drama that never feel too stagey.
Yes, it takes a little sugar with its coffee, but the sweetness goes down easy thanks to a trust that the audience will come along for the ride without a giant spotlight blinding the twists and turns. Plus, it packs a lot into a brief runtime but is smart enough to avoid overreaching its own grasp. It’s a kind drama that engages by dropping us into the character’s lives with immediacy and ease, even in the face of well-worn plot elements.
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