Dropping Out – By Niko Gonzalez – Short Film Review

Dropping Out is the final day of two sisters destined for very different lives, as Chloe (Kirsten Beach) heads to Cambridge to begin her degree at Cambridge University. She is leavingElder sister, Maggie (Bella Hart-Peck) at home, who has a far more nihilistic view on life as she is seen to be the black sheep of the family that cannot possibly compete with Chloe’s academic achievement. 

The two try to reconcile their differences on the last day, but how successful will they be?

The cinematography is intriguing – everything about the colour palate used in this film is bleak. Perhaps the one colourful aspect is found in Chloe’s summery polka-dot dress, with an obvious direct contrast to Maggie’s darker style. Interestingly, Elles (DOP) mutes all colours giving the film a very autumnal feel and a sense that the attitude of the small town is contagious. The colours of the house even mute Chloe’s dress, showing that she too will not reach her full potential if she stays. 

Hart-Peck really brings a wounded and heavy element to the role of Maggie, that contrasts brilliantly to Beach’s more upbeat and optimistic attitude. Joyce (Tammy Mattox) is brilliant in the inconsiderate and unfair mother whilst Connor (Todd Spas) contrasts with the quiet but ominous father. This all begs the question what happened with Maggie to make her get this way? What came first, favouritism or academic success? 

Gonzales’s writing effectively captures the tedium of small-town America. Family dynamics are heavily featured throughout as the dialogue brilliantly shows the entire family trying but not quite connecting. There is also a darker sense of violence and tension that is never quite realised, even if it feels that at any point the family relationships could boil over. 

The closest we see the two sisters getting to reconciling is through their examining of memories. Hart-Peck and Beach both really shine in this vulnerable scene, where their shared experiences almost bridge the gap to their relationship. It is only when Chloe rejects the offer of a cigarette, the symbol of respect in Maggie’s world, are the two brough back to the reality that despite coming from the same place, they are headed for very different futures. 

Ultimately, the film is the story of a goodbye and loss of childhood relationships. We are defined by where we come from, and Gonzales shows just how different two upbringings can be from the same family. 

We very much look forward to seeing where Niko Gonzalez goes next!



Keep Up With The Project & Niko Gonzalez In The Future!