For Her

Tolstoy once wrote that all happy families are alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. (That's in Anna Karenina if you're curious or want to try to impress someone.) And it's true that we do tend to assume that our neighbors, as long as they aren't overtly creepy or awful in some way, are at least somewhat similar to us as far as likes, dislikes, and what we do for fun. In the short film For Her, though, that's not necessarily a very safe bet.

Certainly Jonathan (Derek Nelson) and girlfriend Elizabeth (Kattreya Scheurer-Smith) give all appearances of being just another happy couple, living in a quiet neighborhood somewhere in England. Jonathan works at what seems to be a pretty good job and Elizabeth loves to shop, so right there they're made for each other. But as Jonathan explains, their relationship isn't perfect, any more than anyone else's. He isn't always the most reliable of narrators, but he's definitely got that part right.

Elizabeth is selfish at times, for one thing, and can take Jonathan for granted. For his part, Jonathan has been known to chat up pretty blondes like Anne (Natasha Killip) at the local pub. This doesn't seem like such a good recipe for happily ever after, but Jonathan does still think he's a very lucky man to have Elizabeth in his life, and she seems perfectly content with the way things are, so they continue on.

Then Elizabeth gets rather seriously ill, forcing Jonathan to take time off work to look after her, and of course now she's even more demanding, though that's understandable. But this is placing more strain on their relationship, as Elizabeth's demands get stranger and more difficult for Jonathan to handle. He's determined to see this through -- all relationships require some sacrifice, after all -- but there's only so much a person can take. And when an unexpected new factor is thrown into the mix, they may both have to start working harder to stay together.

The nature of Elizabeth's illness isn't a plot twist as such, but the film takes a slow, quiet, and realistic approach to the more supernatural aspects of its plot, and it works very well, leading to a conclusion that's both inevitable and tantalizing. There are also some clever background touches to watch out for, along with a solid script that hints at as much as it shows. How lucky does Jonathan really think he is, and is Elizabeth truly worth it? This simple yet intriguing short lets the viewer decide.

Jonathan and Elizabeth. They look super happy, but you never know.


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