BY Andrew Buckner
Rating: **** out of *****.
Director James Russell DeMello (“Cemetery Stone”, “Captive”) and screenwriter Mike Messier (“The Nature of the Flame”, “The Actor”) have come together to showcase the aggressive and romantic extremes of a single relationship. Such is accomplished in the beautifully crafted short, “Hail! Hail!”
This is an intriguing concept. It is made all the more impressive when we realize it all takes place in a solitary basement setting.
“Hail! Hail” speaks its volumes in one beautifully execute sequence. Most astonishingly, it defines the sum of an intimate affiliation in several grand gestures. These, in turn, smartly disperse a lifetime of information about the leads quickly and believably.
What is equally fascinating, and another of many wise moves on behalf of the creative team, is that it all occurs in a breathlessly brisk four minute runtime. In this quick duration it never loses focuses of the unique connection between the pair on-screen. Moreover, it never forgets its initial concept.
When this visually crisp work (courtesy of DeMello’s rich cinematography) opens Robbie (Anna Rizzo in another terrific turn which further exhibits her great range as an actress) awaits the return of Roseanne (Jessica Rockwood in a role that captures her character’s essence terrifically).
Robbie passes this time while playing a bass guitar. Moreover, she finds herself talking to a recording camera in front of her.
This is done in an act which delivers character development in an entertaining, engaging fashion. It follows the sum of the piece by being fresh and vigorous. Also, it never feels forced.
When Roseanne arrives she brings with her an argument over fast food. This quickly escalates into a credible rollercoaster ride of realistic emotion. This is captured in an ending which signifies the cycle of the rapport either ending or beginning anew.
To compliment Messier’s well-honed screenplay there are also plenty of moments which exhibit DeMello’s directorial flare. In one case we follow Roseanne’s heels treading down the basement steps as Robbie waits. This is seen from beneath the stairway in a manner that is striking and impressive.
DeMello also ends the short with a shot that is a stunning, creative angle. It is also the perfect punctuation point to conclude on and summarize what came beforehand.
Further helping “Hail! Hail” achieve its charismatic effectiveness is the end credit sequence. It calls to mind the veneer of such segments by Italian master Pier Paolo Pasolini. This is incorporated with a wonderfully realized touch of modern music.
When “Mr. Suitcase” by Sun@ndmun (released through Hip Hop Star Inc.) arises in this final segment it give the proceedings an appropriately sensual allure. It is another act that reiterates the mood of the story remarkably.
This is all complimented further by Mark Hutchinson’s sound design. Lighting engineer Jill Poisson does a terrific job helping create the seamless tone of this piece. To its further credit, the make-up by Kaitlyn Ciampa is exemplary.
The entirety of this short was filmed in a single day. Given the impeccable professionalism radiating from every technical avenue on-screen this is especially incredible.
“Hail! Hail!” is a riveting experience. It proves how much a group of incredibly talented individuals can accomplish in a small time span.
I greatly anticipate the sight of what future marvels this gifted team has in store.