Coming from the position of writing reviews on feature length films I find it much more difficult to share my thoughts on short films. Not for lack of things to say, rather the dilemma exists with knowing that short films and feature length films are worlds apart. Sure, there are many obvious similarities but the differences remain vast. Even down to what the films try to accomplish differ greatly between the two. A challenge like this sparks excitement in me because it breaks free from the status quo. Especially with a film as good as Then & Now.
Never before have I seen a movie about 9/11 that was focused outside of the U.S. More importantly, Then & Now chooses to focus on only one subject. This one subject is none other than Julian Glover, most prominently known for his portrayal of Grand Maester Pycelle in the ongoing, epic series Game of Thrones. The movie, and the story, would be nothing if not for two main ingredients. The second, but by no means less important, ingredient, is Julian Glover. Glover’s performance as George is grossly realistic for what I can only imagine to be an earth-shattering, and horrifying, experience. This experience is that of an old man who witnesses the death of a loved one trapped in one of the Twin Towers whilst he is helplessly confined to a chair in the “comfort” of his own home. Glover makes this discomfort palpable and immensely difficult to watch as his body and face contort in agony.
The secret ingredient, however, is the sensational directing by the impossible-to-tell-apart Bashford Twins. Every decision they made, was the right one, and always, at the right time. The way they decided to show George from his first moments viewing the footage then fluidly intertwine his followings days, weeks, months, or however long, of continuously replaying his personal nightmare as he repeats the news anchor’s words back to himself in a trance-like state was movie magic to say the least. Massive shout out to the lighting department for their stellar contribution. Just as we are figuring out what is happening the screen George is watching goes blank. And, well… I’ll leave that a surprise, because it’s just too good to spoil. And then our screen goes dark.
Personally, I wish the film ended here. I did not need, nor want, more and because I was given more I feel that I unfairly judged the only other character/actor in the movie. George’s grandson James (played by Matt Hookings) comes to visit and this happens, presumably, to bring a positive, family dynamic into the story. Every second before this last scene was pure gold. It was the hyper-focused story of an old man reliving the worst day of his life. Simple and clean yet elegant and wonderful. Granted, many people will disagree and say the ending was great, because it was, although I can’t help but feel it would have been a much more high caliber story without it. I do, however, want to give Hookings a ton of props for his contribution as co-writer. Bravo, sir.
Then & Now is 9 minutes long. It is a short film. For some reason there is a stigma surrounding short films, in the eyes of the everyday moviegoer, because they either have no exposure to them or feel they are a waste of time. Let me clear something up because, in part, I can understand the feeling of not wanting to waste time with a 9 minute movie, so here it is. Then & Now has a runtime of 9 minutes which means only one thing. Every single person can find 9 extra minutes in their day to watch this movie… and it would be a grave mistake not to. 8/10
Check out the trailer —–> https://vimeo.com/115363380
If You Loved Then & Now Then Check Out…
Guaranteed Winner: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)
Classic scenario of a great movie getting a bad rating. Sure it plays heavily on emotion but when building a movie around anything 9/11 related that is tough not to do. At least this one does it very well.
Dealer’s Choice: Reign Over Me (2007)
Even more of an emotional movie than the first. Obviously this time around I chose to recommend two movies strictly because they focus on the same event as Then & Now. Reign Over Me is rated a little better than the first recommendation and it’s worth it to see Adam Sandler in his only good role in a serious movie.