“Trapped and mistreated by her oppressive captor, Layla longs to escape and enjoy the freedom of the outside world. Will the mysterious woman in red offer Layla everything she wants?”
You may know JumpCut UK best for their news, reviews and twitter debates, but if that was all these guys did, their talents would certainly be going to waste. The proof for this comes in the shape of ‘Layla’, the first short film to come out of JumpCut UK Productions. The film has been entirely shot on an iPhone 6, filming in just one day and put together on a minuscule budget. Can the first film made by JumpCut UK Productions match the quality of all their other work? Of course it can.
Based on a poem, centering on themes of religion and sin, incredibly relevant for today’s society, written by one of the directors, Jakob Lewis Barnes, ‘Layla’ tells a short story with no dialogue at all. Throughout the short film the lines of this poem are dispersed amongst the visuals, giving them structure and coherence. This was a great direction to take ‘Layla’ in, as the absence of dialogue combined with the lines of the poem allow the characters to be left open to interpretation, much more so than if a script had been employed here. Why are the characters doing what they are doing? There are certainly many hints and suggestions along the way, but there is a degree of uncertainty which brings the viewers straight into the film. It’s a shame that a couple of the props just can’t stand up to the quality that the rest of the film produces, however when looked at in the context of the budget, this is an excusable flaw which doesn’t have too much effect on the film as a whole. Combating this even further is just how wonderful many of the shots and sequences are within this short film. My particular highlights were the opening shot and a fantastic sequence set in the forest, which is edited brilliantly, enabling the scene to become so otherworldly thanks to its use of colour.
The scenery and settings for the short film are used really well throughout and always enhance the drama that is unfolding in the forefront. Accompanying these shots of lakes, forests and canopies was always such emotive music. Created specifically for this short film, the original music is one of the film’s best elements. It contributes many things to the film as it’s largely, but not wholly, responsible for the range of emotions that are created in the viewer while watching. It’s quite something for a film of 10 minutes long to be able to conjure up fear, suspense, intrigue and joy in its audience, but ‘Layla’ consistently manages to do so. The often sudden shifts in tone helped with this and meant that even when the story suggests that you should be able to relax and feel content, you can’t quite shake the overwhelming feeling of being unsettled. These moments always remind the viewer that it isn’t just the music itself that’s important but how it is used. Directors Jakob Lewis Barnes and Samuel James have handled this material very well creating so much which is worthy of praise. You can sense that this was very much a team effort though, with fellow producer Nick Deal clearly offering his talents and similarly, the cast members, who convey a lot without a single word.
It’s hard to think that ‘Layla’ is the very first film from JumpCut UK Productions, as many techniques and skills used by Hollywood’s finest directors are on show here. I’m struggling to think of a better way to spend 10 minutes but the great thing is there is enough substance to the film that it continues to play out in your head long after its conclusion on screen. A wonderful debut which exhibits much promise for future projects, but there’s no need to rush ahead, and instead I recommend you give ‘Layla’ your full attention as it promises to entertain, stimulate and excite you.
Rating – 9/10
You can watch ‘Layla’ right HERE
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