“Sky’s the Limit” – (Short Film Review)

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By Andrew Buckner
Rating: ****1/2 out of *****.

When we first meet Jason (a charismatic, genuine and beautifully honed portrayal by Timothy J. Cox), the lead from first time writer and director April Schroer’s “Sky’s the Limit”, the balance between family man and recently widowed father is perfectly displayed. He is visibly distracted. It is easy to detect that there is a high level of stress, hints of anger even, beneath his always calm exterior. The individual is spied typing away on his laptop. He is searching online messages. All the while he is only partially listening to what his son, Frankie (a strong and vulnerable depiction, perfect for the material, by Joseph Di Stefano) is saying. The signals, cries of attention from Frankie, appear initially lost on Jason. That is until a playful, imaginative game fills the duo with joy. It is this note which makes the second half, where Jason meets Kaitlin (a sharply rounded and authentically honed representation by Monica Servellon) so quietly powerful.

As the story goes on, it is uncovered that Frankie’s babysitter, Rebecca, is unavailable. From herein, the youth tags along on his dad’s date. It is during these later scenes, both natural and skillfully executed, so pivotal. Here, the audience begins to further sense the unspoken tug of war Jason has within. This is with his decision on which priority is more important to him: the role of parent to Frankie or lover to newly met Kaitlin. His final choice is as underplayed as all that came before it. Such heightens the dramatic beauty ebbing and flowing beneath its transcendent, vibrant slice of life surface. The result is a dynamically developed, breezily paced tale. It is one complimented by genuine dialogue and same-said events. Moreover, it is graced with tremendous performances. The outcome of such is a herculean marvel. It is one that is both fully satisfying and illuminating. Ultimately, it is the consistent believability on-screen, a mirror to existence itself Schroer holds throughout the endeavor, which makes these elements all the more stalwart.

Such is the impetus which thrusts forth the everyday comedic bits. It makes them all the more engaging and likable. These are all beautifully assembled. Refreshingly, the use of humor is not so heavily applied that it ever appears forced or betrays the realism Schroer has successfully accomplished. There is also a poignant, sobering emotive resonance beneath it all. It is one which is lightly, proficiently issued.

Schroer’s fantastic direction and smartly written screenplay never demonstrates the need to underline the sentimentally intense instances. Instead, it is as if we are a silent partner. This is most noteworthy as Jason greets Kaitlin at the door to initiate their date. Such is especially accurate during the climactic movie theater sequence. This is where Jason mentally assesses which definition of love is most important to him. Additionally, this is all entertainingly and convincingly distributed. The fact that such is done in a tightly-knit runtime of seven minutes and thirty-one seconds is all the more awe-inspiring.

With an estimated budget of only $1,000, this is also a technical gem. It looks and feels like an expensive, polished big budget product. Tom Mika’s cinematography is splendid. It supplements the tangible veneer emanating from all other aspects of the effort spellbindingly. Mika and Schroer’s editing fares just as well. Georges Estrella and Filip Ilic’s sound is crisp and spectacularly fashioned. The uncredited music utilized is phenomenal. It fits the brief production’s tone gloriously. To add to the quality at hand, Ryan Moore is incredible in his quick turn as Sky King.

Filmed in Montclair, New Jersey the composition is a joy to behold. There’s a joviality, an innocence lurking beneath the frames. It is one that is as admirable as it is necessary. This is a terrific, heartfelt account. It serves as the reminder to those of us who may see some of ourselves in the rendering of Jason. Such is to disconnect from the workaday world which dominates us. Furthermore, to focus our energies where true importance lies. This message Schroer delivers in a manner that is as understated as all that is previously witnessed. Much like these other attributes, such an action makes it all the more potent, pivotal and prevailing. This is a fantastic, intelligent and masterfully constructed undertaking. It is one I highly recommend you experience yourself.

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