Daniel Cormack’s ten-minute short, Amelia and Michael, has little dialogue but draws us in with its compelling use of gestures, facial expressions, and subtle glances to establish an unsettling mood. Featuring outstanding performances from Natasha Powell and Anthony Head as an estranged couple named Amelia and Michael, the film is a compelling experience of two people who have suppressed their aliveness and ability to connect with others and are simply going through the motions of life. As the film opens, a seemingly well-to-do, not unattractive middle aged couple, Amelia and her husband Michael sit silently in the back seat of their driven luxury car. Everything seems okay on the surface, but underneath there is a sense that all is not well. The sit far apart and show no visible expression, each barely aware of the others presence.
When Michael kisses Amelia goodbye and he enters his place of business, we can feel the blast of cold air that permeates the atmosphere. The distance is maintained in the evening when they are both at home. Amelia asks her sullen distracted husband, “Are you all right?” To which he gives the standard evasion of people who are uncommunicative about their feelings, “Just tired.” Headed off on a flight to Milan, Michael leaves some flowers with his wife, but it is an empty gesture without warmth or genuine feeling. As might be suspected, the next sequence reveals what has been hidden.
Amelia visits a young man in the hospital who is lying in a coma. There is no indication as to who he is or why he is ill, but a picture of the two on the dresser indicates that they were lovers. In Milan, Michael uses the services of a call girl with the same indifference that his relationship with Amelia displays. When he comes home and sees Amelia in tears, he thinks she must somehow know about his affair and apologizes for his one-night fling, unaware that Amelia is most likely crying over the death of her lover.
At the end of Amelia and Michael, they are no further along. Their relationship seems to have petrified. They do not seem to be aware that there is a problem or that they need to do anything about it. It is apparent that, as Albert Einstein pointed out, “No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.”
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