Whilst U2’s involvement in this long-form music video from Northern Irish writer/director/photographer Aoife McArdle will almost certainly steal most of the headlines, strip away their participation in this project (and even their music) and you’d still be left with a powerful and assertive piece of filmmaking tackling themes of love and conflict. Taking its audience back to the streets of Northern Ireland in the early 1980’s, McArdle’s 13-minute film throws its viewers into the violent conflicts of the time, with its high-energy tempo and passionate-performances making it a short you don’t dare take your eyes off for one-second.
Although Short of the Week decided sometime ago to somewhat move away from featuring music videos on our site, that doesn’t mean it’s an area we’ve totally abandoned. With Vimeo proving an important tool in our discovery/curation process, great music videos are still something we come across on a daily basis and are still something we enjoy immensely. And whilst we might not chose to feature these promos we unearth, they still play a large part in highlighting directors we should keep an eye on in the future – in case they make the transition to the more narrative-focused world of short film. A filmmaker we’ve been watching for sometime now, McArdle’s sprawling videos for the likes of Wilkinson and Jon Hopkins and her trilogy of promos for James Vincent McMorrow showcased her flair for storytelling and love for narrative.
Inspired by the teenage energy of the titular U2 track, part Romeo and Juliet-esque love-story, part period-drama, part explosive-thriller, McArdle’s film feels like it has a little something for everyone. Throw in some outstanding filmmaking and meticulous production design and it’s damn near-perfect. Those of us not fans of U2 may think that we’re going to struggle around the 2:30-mark, when the main music-video section of the film kicks in and Bono’s unmistakable voice starts to overtake proceedings. However, the storytelling is so immersive and McArdle’s young cast (most of whom are non-actors cast on the streets of Belfast) so compelling that it doesn’t take long before you’re sucked back into the story and almost become oblivious to the fact the track is still playing. It’s hard to think that a film about such a harrowing topic could be charming, but that’s exactly what Every Breaking Wave is. Its rawness and tenderness cutting through you, leaving you feeling exposed and somewhat broken by what you’ve witnessed, yet it’s the underlying theme of unwavering love that shines through in the end, piercing the bleakness with its slight glimmer of hope.