Short of the Week

Epithet

Inspired by the Young Vic theatre’s recent production of Edward Bond’s play Bingo, Epithet, starring Patrick Stewart, tells the story of a contemporary poet with a dubious background.

An adaption of a theatrical play centering on the last months of Shakespeare’s life doesn’t instantly sound like something that would suit the short film format. Yet, Angus Jackson’s bold short Epithet, inspired by the Young Vic theatre’s recent production of Edward Bond’s play Bingo, proves to be a (literally) gutsy and refreshing addition to the medium.

With its origins on stage and a sleazy lothario at the core of its plot, it’s hard not to watch Jackson’s film and be reminded of fellow theatre-to-film adaptions In the Company of Men and Your Friends and Neighbors from director Neil LaBute. Like these films, Epithet employs snappy dialogue, bad language and the odd moment of controversy to hook its viewers, yet like LaBute’s early work, it’s the performances that really stand out.

With a cast taken directly from the stage production (also directed by Jackson), it’s a rare and somewhat magnificent sight to see an actor of Patrick Stewart’s magnitude taking the lead role in a short film. With a character-driven narrative at the heart of Epiphet, the films success rests largely in the hands of the performances and Stewart and his fellow thespians do a sterling job of giving this all too brief a story some real depth.

Shot on the Arri Alexa, the same camera recently employed to shoot features like  Skyfall and The Avengers, Jackson and his DoP David Higgs opt for hand-held shots that stick close to their performers and provide an added level of realism to Epithet’s gritty narrative. Assembled with uncomplicated and precise post-production provided by The Guardian’s video producer Christian Bennett, Epiphet is a short of solid production values that is all too happy to put its focus on story, instead of ground-breaking techniques.

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Editor on Short of the Week | Cohabiter on Directors Notes | Communicator at @kung_fuelvis
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  • http://jammymonkey.wordpress.com/ Paul Duvall

    Shocking but compelling thanks to the performances. I enjoyed watching Stewart play such a subtly despicable character.

  • http://twitter.com/kung_fuelvis kung_fuelvis

    Glad you enjoyed it Paul – Epithet won’t be a short that everyone will enjoy, but you won’t see many better performances all year. And as you say, it’s not often you get to see the mighty Patrick Stewart play a character like this.