Duncan is on leave from the Marines. He left his hometown three years ago, but only now has returned, just in time to face awkward questions from friends and family — and make amends with his ex-girlfriend Kara on her wedding day.
But the meeting doesn’t go quite as planned, leading Jacob and Kara on an unexpected path of reckoning.
Co-writer and director Jacob Kirby has fashioned a romantic drama that’s engrossing for its visual beauty, its sensitively observed performances and the emotional resonance it elicits.
On paper, the story reads like a romantic comedy, but the care the film takes to paint its world and characters has the depth of a great drama, marrying the two genres in a warmly organic way. The beginning of the short may be placid and even quiet, but the build-up leads to a richly warm, sad yet almost funny encounter that changes both their lives.
Any film about relationships succeeds based on how engaging the performers are, both separately and together. Happily, the short features two leads who are able to delineate the specific beats of their separate journeys with care, and then have terrific ease and chemistry when they finally intersect.
Beyond strong natural performances, the film has an almost classical approach to its craft, marrying stately cinematography and perfectly calibrated editing to create a seamless experience for viewers to get drawn into. We never lose sight of where Duncan and Kara are at when it comes to the feelings they inspire in one another, and we also see the painstaking way they try to negotiate their emotions after such a long absence.
The result is a well-crafted, solid film about love, care and emotional vulnerability. Opening your heart, being honest: these are the moments that call for courage and bravery in everyday real life, and “At Ease” portrays the tension and struggle with honesty and tenderness.