- Natural chemistry between leads
- Relatable lead character
- Could use better camerawork
- Social commentary needs more focus
Stephanie Malson’s short film “Getaway” tackles strong themes while honing in on a touching mother-and-son story at its core.
In GETAWAY, on the backdrop of a summer of civil unrest in the United States, a Jamaican immigrant gives her bullied young son and herself a reprieve with his first trip to her homeland. As they ease into the change of pace, Mom gets shocking news that forces her to make a life-changing decision.
School shootings, police brutality, paranoia, cultural assimilation. Stephanie Malson’s short film “Getaway” has a lot going on theme-wise. Such a multitude of hard-hitting themes could prove tricky or hard to tackle within a 21-minute short but Malaika Paquiot’s focused script shrewdly chooses to instead hone in on the strong connection between a mother and son amidst all the chaos. June (Melissa Kay Anderson, great), a Jamaican immigrant in the United States, is a relatable character. She’s a polite, meek woman just looking to get in where she fits in. She isn’t a pushover but she doesn’t make waves either. A notable scene of such is when a co-worker/friend of hers drops their cordial conversation to pay attention to a story of yet another black man wrongfully shot by the police. June chooses to not engage her friend in a discourse about racially motivated violence and instead take the stance of knowing this is something she just cannot change. On the other hand, there’s the issue of her son Leighton (Ian Smalls, Jr, great chemistry with Anderson). As he reels from a traumatic event at school, June decides that the best way to boost her son’s morale is to take him on a vacation to Jamaica. A getaway from all the violence and unsafe environment that is America.
Both June and Leighton are lost as how to navigate the tricky terrain that is America, where a school shooting or an unprovoked murder is around the corner. As June looks to the past, she wrestles with how to handle her future, specifically how to create a better world for her son. “Getaway” is a great film that pushes the point that trauma is not always localized, it can ring echoes everywhere. What happens here can be felt anywhere else, even in Jamaica. While the camerawork in “Getaway” may not be perfect, the story is at a perfect pitch. The film’s themes, coupled with its natural acting, makes for a compelling watch that is sure to engage dialogue rather than push it away.
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This film will screen at the Pan African Film Festival on Sat, Feb 18 @ 11:15am.