Review: The Secret Friend (2010)

Directed by: Flavio Alves
Written by: João Silvério Trevisan (short story), Flavio Alves (screenplay)
Genre: Short / Comedy / Drama
MPAA: Not Rated
Released: June 27, 2010
Starring: Viola Harris, Siobhan Fallon, Jerry Jaffe, Richard Scott, Beau Hauser, Melvin Shrebnick.

Plot: A reclusive, elderly widow, living alone in the city, begins a mysterious friendship with a silent caller.

Review: 8/10

The Story is about: A reclusive, elderly widow, Anna Marshall, lives in quiet desperation following her husband’s death until she begins receiving daily phone calls from a silent stranger. At first Anna finds the calls intrusive, but as the calls continue unabated Anna finds herself waiting for her phone to ring with growing anticipation prompting her to reach out to her silent prankster. An odd and mysterious friendship evolves between the two as Anna shares her life experiences with startling honesty. Empty days are given new hope, but when the calls abruptly end a devastated Anna is compelled to surprising action to fill the unbearable void.

My Thoughts: Rarely do we see a truthful depiction of the lonely senior lifestyle, because society willingness to casts aside seniors from the general public comes all too easily because once they’ve reached the end of their usefulness suddenly no one would bother to give two shakes about what happens next.

For example; If you were to go to any one of the countless fast-food joins or malls open before the morning rush in my neck of the woods, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a flock of elderly folk gathered in vast numbers, no this is not because they enjoy the scenery or the cheaply processed cuisine, they gather because they’ve come to cherish one of the most important things in life, companionship. In a world of technology and life driving by in the fast lane, we often enough find ourselves disjointed by that which makes us human. A connection, it’s what the elderly yearn for and what many of us have chosen to isolate ourselves from.

Director Flavio Alves’s short film “The Secret Friend” shows us just how important the human connection is essential to the soul especially in the dark times of our lives. There are very few short films out there that have sparked much praise by me, but when they do its message speaks volume and never fails to lose itself in the grand scheme of things. With that being said, The Secret Friend does just that by connecting to viewers through delivering a touching story about lost, loneliness and finding yourself through it all. The situation that the main character, Anna Marshall (Harris) is in is sadly something everyone will go through in one point or another in their life. Losing someone close to us is never easy, nor is it something we can simply recover from.

But unlike Anna Marshall, most people have family and friends to help them deal with the damning situation. But what if you had no one to help you move on with your life? No family, no friends, just yourself with no one to lean on. How could you possible overcome the grief that’s stricken you? The sad truth to this is there are people like that out there, it’s a terrible thought truth be told and you can’t help but wonder what keeps people like that going each and every day, what inner strength they must have. For Anna, it was a mysterious caller that winds up becoming her savior in a desperate time of seclusion without ever saying so much as a word. Though the caller never speaks, he lets her know of his presences by breathing into the speaker so that she knows he’s there.

I know some of you are probably thinking this sounds perversely sick, and maybe a little weird. Well be that as it may, actually seeing it on film is entirely a different story, and it turns out to be touching, and at times cute in that, dare I say it, chivalrous manner. Admittedly when I first heard of this film, I did not think too much about it, especially after learning it was a short. Because in all honesty, attempting to tell a story such as this in a short is extremely hard, not entirely impossible, but difficult at best due to its complexity. But Flavio makes it possible with amity and grace, through his directing style the film delivers a respectful pay it forward message that will no doubt earn the respect of many.

As for the acting: the acting is quite remarkable, despite the limit of actors in this, the film felt full with a sense of contentedness. Actress Viola Harris, whom has been working in the business for nearly 60 years, delvers a marvelous performance which is both touching and heartbreaking. The talented Siobhan Fallon who, in my opinion, is incredibly underappreciated in the business is much more deserving for her outstanding work throughout the years, gives a fantastic performance in her supportive role. Also Richard Scott, Beau Hauser and Melvin Shrebnick give fine performances in their minor roles. And even though we barely hear him other than heavy breathing, Jerry Jaffe does great as the secret friend.

Final Say: The Secret Friend was probably one of the best shorts I’ve seen in recent years. It was an incredible multilayered film of emotion; you can’t help but feel touched for the main character while at the sometime experiencing a few genuine moments of humor. Director Flavio Alves hit’s the hammer on the nail with The Secret Friend. Highly Recommended!

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