REVIEW: ‘The Silent Child’ – an authentic and emotional Oscar-winning film

‘Short and sweet’ is perhaps the best way to describe Rachel Shenton’s Oscar-winning film, The Silent Child. At a length of just 20 minutes, the debut production from the former Hollyoaks actress succeeds at painting an authentic and pure picture of a scenario many deaf young people face today.

Photo: BBC See Hear/The Silent Child.

Set in a rural countryside village, the film follows a typical family with bubbly child Libby (played by deaf actress Maisie Sly) at its heart. Born deaf, it’s soon established that she has struggled to communicate with the wider world. That is, until support worker Joanne (played by Shenton) is called in by the family to break down the communication barrier.

With charming shots from Chris Overton of Joanne riding her bicycle across country lanes, Shenton’s character has an air of Nanny McPhee about her. With textbooks in hand and the occasional sweet treat, Joanne offers her own real-life magic when she introduces Libby to the magic of sign language – one of the most heart-warming moments of the short film being when Libby signs for the first time.

What follows is the growing anxieties of a mother who sees a child deviating from the ‘mainstream’ route of speech and oralism. From the start, we see mum Sue (Rachel Fielding) portrayed as a snotty, arrogant mother which, at times, falls into cliché traits deaf viewers would have seen or experienced all too often – most likely because the forced oralism of hearing parents on deaf children is far from a rare occurrence.

As soon as we see the upbeat and powerful proof of how expressive British Sign Language can be, the film takes a much more tragic turn as a result of the above. Visual set-ups on-screen create a perfect visual metaphor for how mainstream schools for deaf children – without the right support – can only exaggerate the communication barrier that they face.

The tragic feel, dramatic but in no way inauthentic, is the perfect tone upon which to campaign for more sign language recognition and support in schools, with statistics displayed before the credits roll allowing the film to transcend the realms of fiction to illustrate a real-life problem that many deaf children and young people in the UK face today.

In a production well and truly worthy of its Oscar win, duo Rachel Shenton and Chris Overton perfectly illustrate the communication barrier some deaf young people face with raw, emotional and tragic honesty.

Advertisements

REVIEW: ‘You Are Someone Else’ by Fickle Friends

With a synth-heavy soundtrack for the millennial generation, You Are Someone Else is the highly anticipated debut album from Brighton band Fickle Friends.

Rarely are songs so brilliantly mastered that every instrument and layer of a track can be heard all at once. In every one of the 16 songs is a burst of musical euphoria that isn’t in your face or underwhelming, nor detracts from Natassja Shiner’s soft vocals. Whether it’s the plucky bass of Lovesick, the sharp guitar melodies of Swim and Bite or calming synth of Wake Me Up, every one offers a signature sound under the umbrella of true Fickle Friends indie pop.

Not only that, but a triplet rhythm on She and quirky intros on tracks such as Midnight and Rotation hint at future styles from the band. Songs like Paris and In My Head strip back the traditional synths, paving the way for Shiner to take centre stage.

While nearly half of the songs have been heard before, they serve as nostalgic timestamps of the band’s five-year history and for the fans that have followed them along the way. As much as You Are Someone Else can be seen as a diary, it’s also a very personal album – the title (taken from Brooklyn) and record as a whole representing “the feeling that you don’t fit in your own life, forever craving something else”.

It’s something we hear on Hard to Be Myself and Wake Me Up as well as Brooklyn. Songs about anxiety or feeling lost are wrapped up in catchy and vibrant hits, making You Are Someone Else an energetic but relatable album which any listener can connect with.

Rating: 4/5

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Dirt’ by Emma Blackery

It was no surprise that Emma Blackery’s latest single Dirt was going to be firing some shots at a certain someone. With promotional images seeing her posing with bitter labels, sipping tea and bathing in receipts, the singer-songwriter’s track is packed with sass as radiant as the synths at its heart.

While the music video has the vibrant art style of a Chloe Höwl video, the song itself has clear Taylor Swift vibes with blunt, sly muttering in amongst the vocals. Add this to the nursery rhyme of the key line I’ve got dirt on you and you have a song packed with soft, bubbly instrumentals with sharp, flowing and edgy lyrics.

Sure, Dirt is a clear and stark contrast to the calmer tones of the Magnetised EP (which Blackery described as being about ‘mending’), but with cup and saucer in hand, Emma Blackery is stronger than ever.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Wake Me Up’ by Fickle Friends

When it comes to bops, Fickle Friends like to go big and loud. Yet, with every album, live show or string of singles, there’s that one track (or two) which strikes a calmer, more contemplative tone. Today, the Brighton band release that single with their song, Wake Me Up.

In an interesting contrast to previous tracks, it’s pulsing bass and drums which take centre stage in the verses, as opposed to bubbly piano melodies or plucky guitar.

However, the synth, as usual, makes an appearance in the chorus with bouncy chords interlacing with the fluctuating flow of Nattie’s soft vocals.

What is unusual though is the synth’s chord progression, which creates a low, minor tone which isn’t usually heard on a Fickle Friends release. Past releases from the band have begun with calmer introductions, only to quickly progress into fast-paced melodies. Here, we see the same mood throughout, which works well with the song’s tale of a struggling and troubled relationship, as well as showcasing a fresh take on their traditional sound ahead of their debut album release.

You Are Someone Else comes out on Friday, 16 March.