Scrable – Short Film Review

It can be difficult to tell stories about old age and dementia, however in the third film of his ‘Only the Lonely’ trilogy, Scrable, writer and director Anthony Hett presents a story with charm and sadness, but also hope.

This short film tells the story of Salif, played by Bhasker Patel, and Mary, played by Gillian Daniels. Their relationship is a strange one. It appears that they’re employer and employee. But then we see their friendship. Maybe he’s her career. Whatever they see themselves as throughout the day and working weeks, Mary will definitely be there as she won’t miss a shift, they’re important to each other. She needs normality, a routine, an understanding of her life when everything else seems to have gone. He needs her to be ok, to keep coming in and spelling words wrong and trying her hardest. If she doesn’t, he won’t be able to help her anymore. It’s a shame to see Mary struggle, to not understand, but it’s a beauty to see Salif support her rather than getting angry or pushing her away. Like the previous films in this trilogy, it doesn’t matter who we are, we can all be there to help someone.

The setting for this film was a typical laundrette in London. Quiet on the inside, other than buzzing, spinning machines, and loud on the outside, from buses and passers-by, not knowing what’s going on behind the glass. I loved the wide shots in this film, showing us the laundrette and the main characters in full. It spelt out everything for us (no pun intended) as nothing was hidden, but at the same time, all of the truth was clouded over and hidden from us, and the people in the film. It was nice to see the differences and similarities compared with the previous films. We can see the characters so closely yet know nothing. We can see all of them, and not understand them at all. I began this review saying how hard it can be to tell a story about dementia, but with the right team, these films have perfectly captured Anthony Hett’s ideas and portrayed them in a classic and respectful way.

This is the first time in the trilogy, as far as I’m aware other than crew members, that we see characters from the previous films. At the start, we see a mirror image from the first film which follows a postman on his daily rounds. I did actually go back and watch this short scene, just to see the parallels, and I think it’s nice. From the postman’s point of view in Letters, we see his annoyance, thinking the man in the shop doesn’t care. However, in Scrable, we see the truth, that everyone is going through something. Just because the postman can’t see the good that the laundrette owner is doing, doesn’t mean he’s not doing any.

As well as moments from the first film, we’re also shown more of the care worker from Waiting, played by Clare Tyndall. We know she’s a good person, but her role in this film solidifies that. She knows what Salif is going through, and even though she doesn’t necessarily bring it up, just her kindness and understanding is so brilliantly shown through the script and her body language. This trilogy seemed to be three totally separate stories, but through this final chapter, we see that they’re all linked. No matter what anyone is going through, we all need to be there for each other. Whether through a smile, a quick chat, or a bit more, it’s all important, just as these short films brilliantly show.

I didn’t know what this trilogy of short films would present me with, other than loneliness and old age, but I’m so glad I’ve been able to see them and experience the stories. Everyday normal stories that so many people live with each day. Whether we’re the friend stopping by for a chat, a carer making sure they’re ok, or even the person struggling, it’s so important to stick together. A friendly hello or smile could make someone’s day. Seeing these important stories told in a simple yet beautiful way, really makes them stick with you. I wouldn’t want to be left alone, so I don’t want to make anyone else feel that way. 

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