5 – Directed by Chia Chen & Jack GastelbondoShort Film Review

Five is the emotionally turbulent story of couple Lena (Chia Chen) and Nick (Daniel Olson) navigating their new lives after they have chosen to run away from their past together but find their past coming to haunt them. The film opens with the couple in a field, with a cryptic voiceover from Lena who slowly starts counting to 5 before taking a breath, perhaps a hint of things to come.

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The short film takes place mostly in one motel room as the couple try to face their new lives. Chia Chen does a great job of giving the audience just enough information within each scene to keep you pulled in and shrouds the world that these characters come from with mystery. The narrative pacing is excellent and employs flashbacks for both characters at key points to fill in the blanks for the viewer.

Some questions are left unanswered, which is refreshing as the piece centres around the past traumas of the relationship and sets this relationship in a living and breathing world. Both characters are flawed and have definite faults that only makes the audience root for them more. They are there for one another when they need each other the most.

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Both Lena (Chia Chen) and Nick (Daniel Olson) are outrunning their pasts. The acting is brilliant as Chia Chen and Daniel Olson give grounded and varied performances as a couple who don’t always get it right. The tension and intrigue brought by the reveal of each plot point is heightened by the acting performances as you find yourself rooting for Nick and Lena despite their rocky road.

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Jason Cozier (Cinematographer) does a great job with spaces; you really feel the motel room restrict the couple. It’s no accident that the start shows the characters in a field, the restrictive nature of the room representing the couples past that they must work through the trauma to face the future. The shots are dimly lit, with a nice contrast to the hopeful colour palate of the field. The flashbacks also feel very restricted in terms of space, showing that the only way this couple can be free is if they escape their troubled past.

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Violence as a theme surrounds this piece, often coming at shocking times. The influence of parental violence and broken homes echoes throughout the piece as we see just how a bad upbringing can influence the future. However, the film is also hopeful and brings a message that it your past doesn’t have to define you.

All-in-all, 5 is a brilliant portrayal of breaking away from the troubles of the past, told in a compelling narrative from a couple who want to be happy.

We very much look forward to seeing where Chia Chen & Jack Gastelbondo go next!

"5"By Chia Chen & Jack Gastelbondo


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