Family Reunion – Review

Last night I had the pleasure of finally watching David Kitchen’s Family Reunion, starring Karen Bryson, Clint Dyer and Trevor Laird. This powerful short film was well worth the wait and not only that, the cast and crew themselves were on hand to tell us more.

As was revealed in my chat with recent chat with David Kitchen (which you can read all about here), family meant a lot to the people involved in this film and there was certainly a family atmosphere at the screening itself. It was almost like being at an actual family reunion.

On to the film itself. The death of Uncle Bernie has hit this once close-knit family hard, and they take it upon themselves to get things back to the good old days by organising a series of events, including a party for dad’s 60th birthday and a big family reunion.

Karen Bryson and Clint Dyer's performances are so powerful, i'm not sure this film would have been possible without them

Karen Bryson and Clint Dyer’s performances are so powerful, i’m not sure this film would have been possible without them

Along the way, however, a dark secret is revealed, changing the scope of life within the core family members, seemingly forever. I say seemingly, because the film ends on an incredibly tense and highly emotional cliffhanger that had me guessing all the way home.

I’m astounded at how they managed to tell such a story in such a short space of time. The presentation of the story isn’t quite as linear and straightforward as it is described above, however. The production of the film takes us on that journey, but we get there in a way that i’ve never seen before which only adds to the tension, suspense and overall entertainment.

Throughout the earlier scenes, where the family dynamic is seemingly peaceful, we don’t get typical ‘flashbacks’, rather ‘flash-forwards’, in which the viewer is instantaneously plunged into a much darker scene, which contrasts completely with the present narrative and keeps you guessing right from the very beginning. Talk about keeping your attention; I don’t think I touched my wine throughout the whole thing. That is saying something.

Director David Kitchen (left,) immediately after putting a cameraman in the boot. No, seriously.

Director David Kitchen (left,) immediately after putting a cameraman in the boot. No, seriously.

When making a short film, two of the biggest weapons in your arsenal are production and imagination. Production is key; you don’t have the luxury of writing an hour of dialog for each character. Imagination is essential too, but not that of the the filmmakers, but the audience themselves.

Karen Bryson explained it perfectly last night after the show. None of our families are 100% functional. There’s a little dysfunction somewhere, a skeleton in the closet, something under the rug, however small. Family Reunion is made in such a way that the viewer draws on their own family experience to help complete the jigsaw that is presented before us, which only makes the film more compelling from start to finish.

To Bernie.

To Bernie.

I have every confidence will find its way to your eyes and ears sooner rather than later. It’s textbook short film making, with twists and turns on both sides of the camera that truly make it stand out.

Many congratulations to all involved in the making of Family Reunion. Keep an eye out for David Kitchen, i’m told his next script is ready!

This has nothing to do with Family Reunion whatsoever, but the touching family atmosphere displayed throughout the film reminded me of two things. Firstly, my own family back in the day. Secondly, this gorgeous tune by John Legend which my friends and I used to sing at the top of our voices during a night out. To Bernie!

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