Directed by Mat Kirkby, The Phone Call (2013) is a short film that won Academy Award for Best Short Film (Live action) in 2014. It narrates the life-changing story of Heather (played by Sally Hawkins) and offers a heart-breaking tale of loss and depression, yet manages to be so uplifting by the end that you will wonder how it was able to accomplish in 20 minutes what other full-length films can’t in two hours.
As the story opens, we see Heather, who works at a helpline call centre. She is a shy young woman who receives a phone call from an unknown man Stanley (Jim Broadbent), who has no idea that the conversation will change her life forever. Stanley is a widower who is looking for someone to talk to before taking an overdose of an antidepressant and taking his miserable life with him.
Heather makes every effort to convince Stanley to allow an ambulance to arrive and save him so that they may then work together to improve his life but she is unable to do so. The conversation she had with Stanley indeed is heart-breaking, however, it paves way for her to live life to the fullest by being true to oneself. I won’t reveal the rest of the story. Watch and get inspired by this brilliant creation by Mat Kirkby and team.
The film is simple and in the first few minutes you will exactly know what the character is going through in their life. To make it even more evident, the director has used brilliant framing techniques to describe the characters. For example, one of the first frames (where she is reading a book), suggests that Heather is a quiet, lonely, independent, but generally at ease character who enjoys the little things in life.
Music too equally plays an important role in The Phone Call. A sad piano piece that accompanies the film and establishes the mood for the rest of the narrations begins with the opening scene. Also, the audience is able to have a close look at the story and its influential characters. Thanks to Kirkby’s use of close-up shots on the actors’ faces. The film has a very dramatic feel because of the close-up shots and slow pans of the surroundings, that make you pay great attention to every minute thing. The use of different colours gives out the themes of love, romance, sadness, helplessness and passion.
I must say that the stellar performance of the lead actress, Sally Hawkins, contributes a lot to connect with the audience and its narrative. The editing and her acting abilities enabled them to tell the story’s opening, with no words being spoken until nearly three minutes in. When I started watching this film, I was surprised at how fast I became emotionally involved with the characters. You will feel as though you have watched an hour-long film and it is an excellent example of what good film storytelling looks like.