OSCAR SHORTS FILM REVIEW – Triggered: Tara Westwood has taken on a highly controversial topic and one that has truly ripped open the beating heart of America, Gun Control!

The short introduction to this must see film hurtles into a scene that is so emotionally restrained and at the same time so overpowering in its delivery, that I am taken aback, my mind and senses racing and trying to understand ‘What is going on!’ and yet I can’t pull myself away from it. Hypnotic and building to a crescendo that is heart wrenchingly tragic for everyone!

Hypnotic and building to a crescendo that is heart wrenchingly tragic for everyone!

Isiah Whitlock Jr. as Ohio has produced a performance that few can match, his soliloquy is filled with such despair, pent up anguish and an anger that has no direction, yet when the moment comes to deliver the plan, he is overcome with humility and an innocence that shines through, that he is not an animal, he is not a mad raving lunatic but rather a gentle soul who is hurting and hurting badly for the loved ones that he has lost.

Isiah Whitlock Jr. as Ohio has produced a performance that few can match

Virginia, played by Caitlin Mehner, is composed and steadfast in her plan; she is comfortable in the strangers’ home, so much so that she consumes some of their wine as if it were her own. She rarely shows emotion and when she does it is snarling and demonic. Virginia has moved beyond remorse and pain; she wants vigilante justice and revenge by any means.

Robert John Burke’s performance as David, was the one surprise for me, I have seen him in many episodes of Law & Order SVU as the tough, hard as nails internal affairs detective; in this film he truly showed his versatility and acting prowess. Unable to comprehend what actually was happening, he is completely taken aback and becomes fearful when he is told in no uncertain terms why they are being held captive. He is visibly shaking trying to plead with the invaders and at the same time admonish his wife for her misguided and stupid support for the gun lobby. His fear is real. An excellent performance.

Robert John Burke’s performance as David, was the one surprise for me

Heidi played by Tara Westwood, her fear is controlled, and she is confronting to the invaders, ‘I am a US Senator!’ quickly realising that her words are falling on deaf ears and that the home invasion is far more and sinister than a simple robbery; she is slow and controlled in dealing with the situation, never really believing for a moment that it will actually happen. A wonderfully restrained and convincing performance.

Tara Westwood’s wonderfully restrained and convincing performance.

Director Tara Westwood has taken on a highly controversial topic and one that has truly ripped open the beating heart of America, Gun Control! The film is intense, the script is sharp and opens up the oozing wound of the many innocent victims. I felt the pain and anger of the victims at the same time I did not feel animosity towards the senator. What is right and what is politics do not always go hand in glove. Tara Westwood successfully teased this out from the actors and the script.

The film is intense, the script is sharp and opens up the oozing wound of the many innocent victims.

Cinematography by Edd Lukas amalgamated the whole film; his use of shadows, low and reflected light added that much needed depth and made the film’s aura intense and sympathetic. The one camera close up of Ohio telling his story, showing his anger and pain was beautifully executed.

Cinematography by Edd Lukas amalgamated the whole film

I really look forward to ‘Triggered’ being made into a full length feature film. Here’s hoping it isn’t just made into a feature but it makes the OSCAR shortlist too!

Sonya McCloud, Film Business

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