By Oliver Mates (January 28th, 2018)
Written & Directed by: Tessa Hoffe
Produced by: Tessa Hoffe
Key Cast: Georgia Bowra (Georgia), Enzo Hoffe (Enzo)
Spinosaurus is a short film that follows a young girl and her little brother living on their own, waiting for their mother to return. We follow the children as they take care of themselves and indulge in their own sense of amusement in the absence of a parental figure. The older sister takes the reigns in pushing them forward throughout the day while diverting the attention from the emptiness in their house.
This is a story told with such elegant simplicity - a brief narrative structure that invests its entire runtime on the little moments shared by a young girl and her brother. In fact, these small moments are exactly what highlight Tessa Hoffe’s achievement as the writer and director of this film. Hoffe doesn’t impose any obvious cinematic tropes or stylistic flourishes in an attempt to impress an audience, but instead she keeps the camera close to her stars, and lets the story linger in the silence.
Georgia Bowra and Enzo Hoffe are both an absolute joy to watch. Their relationship feels genuine and their conversations seem authentic. Perhaps the greatest strength shared by both performers is the honesty that radiates from their screen presence. We don’t see a performance at work, we just see two human beings living on their own.
One of the strongest assets the short film has is the cinematography. Visually the film is wonderful - the camera work pulls us right into the personal space of the characters. Throughout the story we see these wonderful scenic shots of the environment around them, but the piece never gets lost in that or loses its focus. We stay locked with these isolated characters and are immersed in their world, consumed in their dilemma. As the film unfolds, there is a very strong impression as to what may have happened to their mother, but this is ultimately left ambiguous. The only answers we are given, are the ones the characters have. And with that being the intent, the writing is small, yet effective, making room for an exploration of naturalism.
At its best, Hoffe has crafted a film that feels like a tasteful brew of personal moments, preserved on film for us to revisit from time to time. The final result is quite a treat to watch, reminding us of the power of the quieter expressions in art. Spinosaurus is a gentle, intimate and moving piece of film.
- Oliver Mates