Isabel Dréan’s 14minute long short movie begins with an optimistic view of the world. Two small children, Claire (Milan Coté Dréan) and Mathis (Jaz Coté Dréan), are frolicking about in bed with their mother (Claudia Ferri) before they have to get up for school. Gentle piano keys tinker in the background whilst a warm shade of light shines across the screen as they children’s imagination leads to stories about magic and dinosaurs.
A brief glance again to the heavens outside with sunlight piercing the clouds comes shortly before the family take the car journey to school where once again there’s more singing, more playing and joviality.
But as quickly as this dreamlike sequence begins, it’s suddenly over. We’re back in the bedroom again, but this time, there’s no Claire.
And so the real story of Dréan’s multiple award winning short starts to take shape. There’s a complete tonal shift from what starts out so hopeful and inspiring, moving to a bleak descent into loss and depression. Piece by piece, it fall into place and the true story of a mother having a child ripped from her life takes hold.
It’s a clever way to begin the film because it only makes the latter half even more traumatic an experience. I don’t personally have kids, and even I could feel that sick sensation in the pit of my stomach at what a horrible thing losing a child would be for someone to go through.
I’m not the only person to feel that way too, it seems, as the prestigious Los Angeles New Wave International Film Festival recently awarded Let Go with a Best Picture award. Isabel Dréan also picked up a Best Director award for her achievement.
“This film is very personal to me as I made it with my own children. As a mother, nothing is scarier than the thought of losing a child. It was a very challenging artistic process. Every one involved was passionate about the project, I’m happy that our team is getting recognized for their effort.”
Whilst it somehow seems a shame that Jérôme Boisvert didn’t pick up an award for his score on Let Go, there is some justice in the world that Philippe Toupin was awarded Best Cinematography for his part in the film. Some of the shots in what is essentially an indie, crowd-sourced project are very impressive indeed. Particularly the final shot – which I’ll refrain from spoiling! But wow. What a way to end it.
From The Babadook, to Secret Sunshine, to even Marley & Me, films about loss, separation, grief and the anxiety that goes with it are almost always guaranteed to make you a bit weepy eyed. It seems like it would be a failure of the filmmakers if you are not to emotionally connected to a story like that.
For Let Go to not only attempt to tackle a subject like that, but to also do it effectively with such a short amount of time, is pretty remarkable. It’s not an easy watch by any means. The foreboding early on and crushing inevitability leaves you squirming a little in your seat, but it’s all the same a neat, affecting short psychological drama.