‘Here Lies Joe’ is a short film that focuses on suicide. This film takes a controversial subject and crafts out a beautifully shot and written short that manages to find a way to deal with the dark edges of death and delivers some expertly placed humor to lift us up.
The film introduces us to a depressed Joe. While attending a suicidal support group he meets ‘Z’, a rebellious, loud and sarcastic girl who does not seem to be depressed at all. After ‘Z’ gets a ride home from Joe the pair strike up an unlikely friendship and spend the afternoon together in the most unusual ways getting to know each other. However, it is when they leave each other they become most vulnerable and we discover more about the reasons why they are attending the support group.
The short was directed by Mark Battle, who also wrote the story along with Pamela Conway and produced with Conway and Gerald Cain. Battle and Conway have done a fantastic job with the writing. They have managed to give us a perfectly balanced film with the dark subject matter such as this being balanced out by some well timed and incredibly funny humor. It also delves down to the reasons of suicide and gives us an honest look at the realities of depression and how it affects different people in different ways.
Mark Battle gave us some brilliant cinematography. The lighting was perfect for the setting and tone of the movie, a slight darkness throughout gave it a very somber feel. There were some amazing shots with very well thought out camera work, it is clear that Battle has an excellent eye for this.
The cast were all very strong, something that was needed for this set of complex characters. Dean Temple was brilliant as Joe, a man ‘in transition’ and clearly down-on-his-luck, looking to end it all. Temple captures Joe perfectly from his darkest points all the way through to his acceptance of a friendship with ‘Z’. Andi Morrow matches Temple step for step with an enigmatic performance as ‘Z’. Morrow captures this seemingly free-spirit and plays it to the full bouncing off whoever she gets to interact with. It is a pleasure to watch Morrow and Temple interact as the have excellent chemistry on screen. It is when Morrow is showing the vulnerable side of the character that she really shines, peeling off the mask of ‘Z’ and giving us a glimpse at how she is really feeling deep inside.
The supporting cast are just as effective as the film’s stars. Mary Hronicek acts out the clinically depressed Carol to perfection. The part was played brilliantly and she almost stole the show with her ‘depressed goldfish lines’ or the ‘twenty second hug’ both still bringing a smile to my face. The lines were delivered with such seriousness it is a big credit to Hronicek. Timothy J. Cox put in an excellent job as Bill, the mild-mannered leader of the support group, showing us another ace in his acting deck.
This short film is a prime example of independent cinema done right. The depth of the acting and the right shot is all it needs you create an enjoyable and engaging movie.