I got a rather late message from Hillary Esquina about her newest short film, “My Love” – released TODAY! In a special treat for Valentine’s Day, this lesbian short film beautifully captures a couple’s love from their first meeting through to today. While it only lasts just over three minutes, it’s a refreshing message about love & commitment. Interestingly enough, no words are spoken! (Ok – all the dialogue is actually provided in a voiceover) But there’s a few other bits that make this queer short film worth watching today. Let me quickly break it down.
Synopsis of “My Love”
Rose (Sarah Durham) is in the garden, watering and trimming her flowers on a crispy sunny morning. In a verbal voiceover while Rose continues her gardening, the two women recount their first official date – New Year’s Eve. (Though Rose thought it was later in January – but that was their first “official” date, as Kay politely reminds her!) They both reminisce getting separated from their friends and waiting at the bar when their eyes first met. Meanwhile, Kay (Mandahla Rose) lights up a pipe inside their home before bringing drinks to bring out for her and Rose. As the voiceover continues, Rose shares details about their first kiss – unbelievable! Kay chimes in that the “firsts” of a relationship are always incredible. Like two puzzle pieces fitting together, both terrifying yet amazing; calming yet exciting.
Having handed Rose the drink, they sit down in their garden chairs. The voiceover continues as Rose asks Kay if there was a specific moment when she knew. But Kay merely confesses that there were many moments. That between the ups and the downs, life together has been an adventure over the years. And as their fingers intertwine while showing off wedding bands, they murmur to each other: “Happy Valentine’s Day, my love”.
While I did have a few questions regarding some of the choices made in “My Love”, overall I thoroughly loved it! So let’s kick off with the positives. The script is very relaxed, natural but with a slight poetic nature to the dialogue. In a causal banter typical for an interview, Rose and Kay discuss their thoughts and feelings from the first time they met, continuing through the ups and downs that brings them both to the present. I did have to wonder who they were talking to, given the interview feel. Given that there were no others shown on screen, it felt a bit off. However, I actually enjoyed the fact that all the dialogue was separate from the actual onscreen acting.
By starting off focusing on the flowers and the tiny details in the sunlight while Rose works in the garden, I first though it was a flashback – or that Kay would come out of the house and they’d start conversing in person. However, I was pleasantly surprised at my reaction to Christie Conochalla & Jessica Harcourt keeping these two key cinematographic elements separate. There’s a specific reason to use a voiceover, and there equally is a powerful message when you focus on wordless interactions. By positing them together, it’s actually quite beautiful. And within the charming inner garden, the scene is visually set up perfectly. There’s a bit of Rose’s quirkiness to balance out Kay’s more strict approach, evident in the little details such as Rose’s frizzy hair to Kay dressed neatly and smoking a pipe. It really works well together.
However there were a few elements about “My Love” that bothered me. Despite the relaxed feel of the dialogue, I got a vague impression of someone reading from a script rather than acting at times. I think this is a result of the split between dialogue and the visual, making them seem a bit more disjointed than they really are. Equally, I feel like I can’t judge the acting capabilities of either leading lady fully because of the separation. A minor issue in the larger picture, but for as much as I enjoyed the choice to split the two bits, it still irked me slightly. The other issue I had was with some shaky camera work. But what I found odd was that I only noticed it when the camera focused on Rose or the garden. When Kay is the focus of the lens, things are smooth and steady. Perhaps this is another way to showcase their two different personalities, but it came across as two different people holding the camera – and one needs to use a steady cam! Again it’s a rather minor, nit-picking detail, but one that was noticeable.
While it’s actually the day AFTER Valentine’s Day for me, “My Love” is the perfect little queer short for you to enjoy on this romantic holiday. If you need something sweet and romantic to rekindle an ongoing love, or perhaps if you are single & wish for a little boast in spirits – “My Love” is a perfect fit!