Living Room – Short Film Review

Directed by Jessica Barclay Lawton, Living Room is a short film that has its story set in Japan. Masayuki (Masaaki Aoi) is a rather depressed, middle-aged man who looks after his elderly mother.

Masayuki’s mother is under the impression he works late night shifts, but in reality, he is actually unemployed and gambles his nights away while drinking. He is not happy with life and aimlessly wanders each night doing these same things, always somehow covering up the matter of the fact so that his mother does not know. Despite all this, his reason for gambling is to save up enough money to help his mother for her future, financially, something she is also not aware about. It isn’t until Masayuki meets a stranger on the street, a woman, (Qyoko Kuda) that he believes will help him and also help change his life.

While Living Room is a nice-looking short film and has some beautiful cinematography establishing Masayuki simply sitting and pondering his life while he is gambling, or a close-up of Masayuki just standing, looking defeated and purposeless in life (which is quite heartbreaking to see), I had to re-watch this short film a few times to really ‘get’ what this film is about and unfortunately, I am still not absolutely certain on what I was meant to take from this. It could be the fact that sometimes, we as human beings need an escape from life.

Sometimes we are not happy and content with where we are in life and I am sure we can all relate to this at some stage. We need a restart, a change. This was the case for Masayuki, who clearly was in desperate need of a break of his depressing actions if his ‘wash rinse repeat’ night activities were anything to go by. Sadly, I am not too sure if this is exactly what Living Room was meant to convey across to me. It felt a little muddled in its message and I am sad that I’m still uncertain about what I should fully take from this.

The score for this film, however, is wonderful. Particularly, the piece that plays right towards the end of this film’s journey while we are watching Masayuki, which is just gorgeous. With a mixture of sadness, longing and even what sounded to me as a slight hint of slight horror attached to the score (which I quite liked), it is the one thing that I thoroughly enjoyed and stood out for me the most while watching Living Room.

Living Room will be available to watch online as part of the St Kilda Film Festival between the 12th and the 20th of June 2020.
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