Fabien Oman, in his debut short film as director, does double duty as writer as well, basing STAGGERED off of a stage play (the theatre which is also showcased in the film). This slice-of-life movie shows a chance meeting by a man approaching middle age named Dan who runs into his ex-girlfriend Éabha, who has just moved back to town with her English fiance and their newborn child. While the meeting is innocent enough, it soon sparks a late-night phone conversation that I’m sure a lot of people can relate to, where a post-mortem of sorts is carried out on their previous relationship and they ask themselves the questions that have been lingering since their breakup.
The movie is incredibly relatable, with several instances within the performances that feel like they were lifted from conversations I’ve had with my own exes. The two main actors, Dave Rowe and Louise Bourke have fantastic chemistry and you get a real sense of longing from both of them. The phone conversation feels like the audience is eavesdropping on this private moment between them. It just works.
Looking at it from a standpoint of cinematography, there are a camera moves that stand out from the rest, but don’t really fit the motif of the rest of the story. Thankfully the more egregious of them is in the beginning of the film, so it doesn’t take you out of the story. Other than that, the colors and the overall look are sharp and vibrant. You get the feeling of how these two people are living and how their lives have diverged since parting ways.
There isn’t much of a score to speak of, but the piano music over the end credits is nice (with thanks to composer Gerard Nash).
For a low-budget short film, STAGGERED certainly delivers. Also, for a first solo directed film, Fabien Oman really brings it home with this grounded and real tale. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for his next movie.