Short film Waving at Trains is released through indie VOD platform We Are Colony today. We take a look at one of Pete Postlethwaite’s final performances.
People play with model trains for all sorts of reasons. Fascination with mechanics. A love of details. Perhaps they just really, really like trains. For Douglas Warren, it’s a way to connect with his past.
Pete Postlethwaite plays the old man reliving his childhood trip to the railway with his mum, Celia. Accompanied by her new fella, Richard, it’s a day out that soon goes awry, as tensions, a tragically placed kite and forces of nature conspire to torment the young boy. Years later, in a storm-battered basement, he reasserts control over events, recreating the picturesque countryside with tiny pieces of plastic – and a heavy dose of electricity.
Postlethwaite is heartbreakingly excellent as the desperate man. Echoing lines from Alan Seiglow’s script with a muttered madness, he stares out of the window, counting the distance of the thunder with a crazed look in his eye. One of the last things the late actor filmed, Waving at Trains only gives us a few minutes’ glimpse of Pete at work, but it’s a striking reminder of just how powerful a screen presence Postlethwaite was (and still is).
Sean Crotty directs the flashbacks with bright, saturated verve – a contrast to the cloudy gloom that follows. As Warren’s private plaything becomes a shocking source of penitence, Postlethwaite’s haunting performance sticks with you. You’ll never look at a model train in the same way again.