By Ashley Maniw (April 23rd, 2018)
Directed by: Izzy Stevens
Written by: Kristy Hocking
Produced by: Kristy Hocking
Key Cast: Kristy Hocking, Sian Ewers, Anne Marie Mazza
Unique and contemporary, Leap is a poignant short that reflects on life, loss and the gapping void that appears before we’re facing a big change. Emerging director Izzy Stevens allows the audience to connect to the story simply by showing, not telling. The non-linear flashbacks and poetic narration drops us into the mind of her main character, Kit (Kristy Hocking), allowing us to experience her inner turmoil as she tries to figure out her next steps after the death of her partner. Kit packs up and moves out of her parents’ house to start over without expressing her deep grief to those around her. She’s disconnected and adrift, caught up in past thoughts and memories that she’s not ready to let go of.
It’s a common story, but one that vibrates. By deconstructing traditional linear narratives and relying on disconnected flashbacks, dreams and voiceover narration, Stevens shows us what it feels like to lose someone you love. The use of handheld tracking shots also helps the emotional resonance; by focusing so closely on her lead as she thinks and wanders, reacting numbly to the world around, Stevens is putting us directly in the mindset of someone grappling with that pain. These shots are some of the film’s best moments, allowing us to feel how discombobulated Kit is. It keeps the story fresh and modern, helping us connect to Kit in an easily accessible way.
Shot in Australia, Stevens uses the lush scenery to reflect Kit’s inner state – wide open fields at the beginning of her journey, a cramped apartment when she’s starting out again on her own, a bustling city as she drifts aimlessly, crashing waves of the ocean as Kit debates taking that leap.
Underscoring the film are also themes of honesty, sexuality and family connections. Being able to live your truth, to be fully open with those around you is something that everyone struggles with. These themes really ground an otherwise experimental film with a very real human conundrum.
Grief is something we all experience at some point, but the ramifications and painful process is truly unrecognizable until we experience it ourselves. Change is also very much like grief – it comes whether we like it or not and whether or not we’re ready for it. Like grief, change is a feeling that has momentum – it pushes us forward, encourages us to keep moving, and even forces us to confront parts of ourselves that we’re not ready to look at and acknowledge.
We’ve all stood at the precipice and wondered where we’re going and how we’re ever going to get there. And Stevens is a very capable director, showing flare and confidence by exploring this theme in such a non-linear, experimental way. Stevens understands story and how to play with it, but even more importantly she also understands emotion, mood and tone. We might not definitely know what happened to Kit, but we know enough and more importantly, we feel enough to be able to connect with her and this story. I’m looking forward to seeing where Stevens takes her audience next.
- Ashley Maniw