The Tide Is High

By Ryan Polly | Drama
A young couple discuss surfing, gluten and... well, cancer.

John and Jenna are a young couple who are dealing with difficult situation: they’re facing a dire cancer diagnosis.

They spend some time processing the situation at a diner, discussing everything from surfing to gluten, dancing the subject of sickness and mortality until they finally grapple with what’s happening to them.

Writer-director Ryan Polly’s short drama is focused on a crucial turning point in two lives. Taking place almost entirely in a diner, the action of the film is essentially a long conversation between two people trying to figure out how cancer is going to affect them going forward.

The camerawork and lovely cinematography capturing the scene manages to be dynamic, but with such a tight scope, the film has to lean on great writing and performances, which it has in spades. The script is clever, but its wit dances around a raw spot of vulnerability and sadness.

When the actors finally hit upon the nitty gritty of their situation, the performances bring forth the anger, tenderness and complexity of emotion that often comes in the face of a devastating diagnosis. The unfolding feels authentic, true and ultimately touching.

“The Tide Is High” is reminiscent of the more experimental indie films of Richard Linklater, which often seem to capture the movement of time and feeling between two people navigating an important turning point in life. This short covers the same thematic ground, and is similarly sensitively drawn, warm, funny and tender-hearted. It’s a film about looking into the abyss — but finding some consolation that someone is standing next to you, helping you draw upon bravery to face the darkness.

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