Short film review: The Karman Line
James R | On 09, Feb 2015
Fresh from its BAFTA nomination for Best Short Film, The Karman Line is available to watch online from today on We Are Colony and iTunes.
Illness can pull a family apart. In Sarah’s case, that actually happens, when she contracts a rare disease that causes her to float in mid-air.
It’s a wonderfully surreal take on a very real struggle that people face every day – and The Karman Line’s strength lies in how seriously (and sensitively) it treats the bizarre condition.
At first, it’s a minor inconvenience, as people stand on tip-toe to hand her cups of tea and hairdressers bring round stepladders to perch on for her monthly trim. It’s amusingly odd. A quaint curiosity. But Sarah keeps on rising. Soon, her problem escalates into a horribly tragic situation, which sees her husband and daughter hire out cherry pickers just to hold her hand.
Shaun Dooley’s Dave is instantly sympathetic as he frantically tries to keep his wife within arm’s length. The contrast between him and his daughter’s (Chelsea Corfield) reaction is subtle, yet striking; he reaches out, while she moves in the other direction, attempting to withdraw. On the other end of the line, Olivia Colman is heartbreakingly brilliant, smiling at first before her face crumples into fear like a soggy tissue.
As she ascends, her features occasionally light up at the stunning skyline that unfolds, captured with all the beauty you’d expect from master DoP Robbie Ryan. Together, Ryan and Sharp combine incredible visual effects with highly credible performances, but it’s Dawn King’s script that gives this airborne short its gravity, turning the emotional struggle to let go into something terrifyingly literal. The title, The Karman Line, refers to the boundary 100km above the Earth, between our atmosphere and outer space – a statement of inevitable destination that gives this tragedy a throbbing urgency. It’s an extraordinary take on a sadly ordinary problem, one that leaves you pondering the challenge of moving forward on the ground, while keeping an eye on the air above.
Silly, serious and hugely moving, these 25 minutes are simply astonishing.