Sid is a young man just entering the prime of adulthood, with a strong circle of friends and a great love of life. He is also grappling with a terminal illness and will be dead in a few months.
Realizing his time left is quite short, he enlists his tight circle of friends to help him become “infinite” — to live on in some way despite the ending of his life. As they grapple with their feelings of sadness and grief, the group creates a ritual to celebrate Sid and the cornerstones that have made his life so great — even as he is on the verge of leaving it.
Written and directed by Connor O’Hara, this affecting short drama may be about death and coming to terms with one’s mortality. But this isn’t a dour, introspective narrative, with slow pacing and muted, bleached-out visuals. Instead, it possesses great brio, warmth and liveliness, thanks to its deeply affectionate portrayal of friendship, fellowship and spirit in the face of challenge and doubt.
The storytelling possesses particularly openhearted writing, tangling directly with the difficulties of grief and sorrow as Sid prepares to leave life. The tenor is set with the opening scene, where Sid details the things that have made his life so rich — family, friends, location, home and love — and puts forward his plan to commemorate and immortalize his existence. There’s great humor and a long-standing sense of connection between all the friends that comprise this tight circle, as well as a wide-ranging set of feelings as each friend comes to terms with Sid’s coming passing.
A film that focuses on friendship, solidarity and community rests its success upon an ensemble of great performances, and here it is lead by actor George MacKay, star of Sam Mendes’s Oscar-nominated film 1917. MacKay came to fame gaining accolades for his compelling portrayal of a soldier facing extreme situations, and in this short, he faces another extreme situation involving life and death. Though the character and dramatic dilemma are different, the performance is just as richly sensitive, empathetic and deeply human.
The visuals, too, have a warmth to them, focusing on a mellow-hued naturalism and a lived-in look in the settings. The visual beauty emphasizes the richness and fullness of Sid’s short but shining life: the beauty of the natural surroundings he’s lived in, the comfort of his home and the fire that will make the sacred objects of Sid’s life into a permanent memory in the world. By the time the fire sends the memories of him into the atmosphere to live forever, we understand in an intimate way just what makes life so beautiful and worth celebrating, both for Sid and for our own lives.
“Infinite” is a rare film that is unabashed in its tackling of life’s sacred transitions, yoking its broadmindedness and heartfelt nature of the main character’s own arc. It is straightforward and unafraid of emotion, which is particularly remarkable for a film about friendships between men, and the deep bonds of affection between them.
But “Infinite” avoids sentimentality, mostly because it does not sugarcoat the sadness and sorrow inherent in Sid’s situation. He faces it with grace, good humor, deep acceptance and bravery, and helps his friends come to terms with it as well. In many ways, that’s what rituals are for: they’re not just to memorialize those who are passing — but to help their spirit live on with those left behind. The ending ritual closes the film on these aching yet hopeful notes, with equal parts exuberance, tenderness and love — everything that makes life so worthy of celebrating in the first place.