Writer-director Mark Lobatto has created a compelling, sensitive short drama about grief, loss and the way we bury burdens of past sadness within us — and how we can reconcile ourselves to them through human connection.
Actress Maisie Williams — known for her role as the iconic Arya Stark on Game of Thrones — plays Leonie, a no-nonsense, guarded, sometimes abrasive young woman whose sister asks her to look after her elderly neighbor, a German man named Udo, while she’s away.
Leonie isn’t keen on staying at her sister’s or taking on the burden of keeping an eye on Udo, who clearly struggles with his memory and yet does not want to give up his independence. Almost despite herself, Leonie begins to care for Udo, investing herself emotionally with his safety and well-being. Through caring for Udo, she begins to confront some of her own painful losses in her past, cracking open her defensive shell and letting other people in.
With its subject matter and emphasis on emotions, it would be easy for the story to turn sentimental and melodramatic. But the approach of the film hews towards a gentle, elegant restraint, in both the writing and visuals. The camera, for instance, often chooses to play scenes in wide shots that slowly push in towards the action, and the score is plaintive yet minimal in presence, underscoring key moments without overwhelming the film.
The writing, too, is patient, slowly revealing key details and information that illuminate both Udo and Leonie’s pasts. Like real life, viewers take time to gain intimacy with Leonie and Udo, but at the end find themselves rewarded with a deeply moving emotional journey.
With its emphasis on patience and observation, the film then rests on performances to convey the swirling currents of emotion and realizations that bubble under the action. What’s wonderful about Williams’s performance is how it leverages aspects of her most famous role — her strength and forthrightness — but burrows deep underneath the surface to reveal a deep well of sensitivity and vulnerability, which finds a receptive opening with her growing connection with Udo, played with great care and courtliness by Ronald Pickup.
Williams offers a dynamic, sensitive performance about a woman finally allowing heartbreaking pain to come to the surface, and the arc it travels is both precise and deeply felt. It also establishes Williams as an actress who can illuminate the full spectrum of human emotion, and audiences will come to the end of the short hoping to see her in more roles like Leonie, in stories like “Stealing Silver,” which earns genuine emotion through beautifully crafted writing and an understanding of human nature that is heartfelt, compassionate and unafraid of life’s inherent difficulties.
To find out more, see the producers’ creative collaboration site.