Saturday 2 January 2016

[FILM REVIEW] - Stutterer

Stars; Matthew Needham, Chloe Pirrie, Eric Richards
Writer/Director; Benjamin Cleary

Greenwood is a typographer who suffers from a terrible speech impediment yet possesses an eloquent inner voice. After six months of conversing online with the equally eloquent Ellie, Greenwood has to face his greatest fear when she suggests they meet in person.

London Film School graduate Benjamin Cleary has certainly made an impressive debut with this endearing short that tugs at the heartstrings and has you rooting for the film's central character. Drawing on his experiences growing up with his father and brother both afflicted with stuttering, Cleary captures the difficulties of everyday life faced by those with a speech impediment but not to invoke sympathy. Greenwood is not a person to be pitied; yes the irony is certainly evident that such an intelligent and eloquent thinker with an insightful witty internal monologue struggles to vocalise making everyday communication such as phoning to query a utility bill a veritable mountain climb. That is what lies at the heart of Cleary's film the switching from debilitating fear to tremendous bravery.

Greenwood is a very complex character with a great sense of humour, sharp observations echoed by his internal snap judgments categorised numerically as he people watches to pass the time away. The conversation he has online with Ellie further illustrates his intelligence thus shattering the stigma that at times links stuttering to mental capacity. Cleary shows how life is a constant battle for Greenwood sometimes hiding from daily engagement by pretending he's deaf but then finding the courage to confront an abusive boyfriend on a bus stop. This complexity is brought to life by the excellent Matthew Needham who shows real depth and dimension of this delightful individual. Moments such as Greenwood struggling to share an observation with his father who patiently listens are touching as is the online conversation he has with Ellie. Such is the power behind the performance that when Greenwood faces his biggest fear you can really feel his anxiety and the dilemma behind his decision but still find yourself encouraging him to take that step.

"Stutterer" is a touching engaging story of bravery and hope in an unforgiving world which for someone with a speech impediment can be scary. Although it is a tale of struggling with a debilitating condition there is a lesson for us all to find the courage deep inside and face our greatest fears. At just over 12 minutes a short film with such depth of emotion and  story telling it is no surprise that it has won many an accolade at an assortment of festivals not just for Cleary's compelling film making but for its lead actor. Now it has been nominated for  an OSCAR in the "Live Action Short" category. The full list is as follows;

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