“Dream A Little Dream Of Me…”- ‘Dearest Paula’ (Short Film Review)

With her short film director and writer Madeleine Buisseret has managed to encapture deep and important themes in a limited space of time. We meet her protagonist, the eponymous Paula, at her most intimate – when she is showering. Several connotations could be interpreted here; that the following story will continue to show her laid bare; that she has something to wash away or perhaps that she needs to move on from something. The narrative continues to take this ambiguous route throughout; obvious interpretations are there but there’s a tone of something not being quite right. What is being withheld from us and why?

We then see a freshly laundered Paula reading a Superman graphic novel, yet again we could interpret symbolism as well as being furthered aligned with her character. Is she like Clark Kent, an outsider in her adopted home? A strange interaction with two women of similar age (Friends? Housemates?) clearly confirms Paula as outcast. Buisseret continues to withhold this information from us, skillfully giving us enough to tantalise and develop the intrigue.

What follows seems to be a standard parental visit to a university-residing daughter but the off-screen diegetic addition of Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong’s ‘Dream A Little Dream Of Me’ wistfully pulls Paula away from her art examination, like a siren from Greek mythology pulling sailors to rocky shores in the hope of causing a shipwreck. In this case the rocky shores are that of Paula’s past, the music pulling her to rocky memories but equally fatal disaster.

In a relatively short space of time Buisseret manages to say a lot about the nature of memory and the devastation that unearthed once-repressed memories can cause. This is due to her aforementioned choice of title track – think Edith Piaf’s ‘Non, Je Regrette Rein’ in Inception (2010) in terms of haunting melancholy – but also her use of iconography. Key moments are skillfully framed and angled, symbolism apparent, revelations told through tracking shots haunted by lingering inevitability.

Dir: Madeleine Buisseret

Scr: Madeleine Buisseret

Cast: Katie-Rose Spence, Mark Ivan Benfield, Rowena Bentley, Ruby Macdonald, Eleanor Ponsford, Rhiannon Hughes, Jem Ryecraft, Troy Chessman, Joe Fitzpatrick, Malachi Fontenelle, Gary Houlden.

Prd: Aaryan K.Trivedi

DOP: Solveiga Serova

Music: Fionn Lucas

Country: United Kingdom

Year: 2017

Run time: 13 minutes

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