The Interrogation of Olivia Donovan
October 5, 2016|UK Film Review
Directed by Carl Mackenzie
Starring Cristian Solimeno, Eva Pope, & Ellie Paskell
Short Film Review by Lorenzo Lombardi
Child abduction is a tough subject to tackle but it often serves as disturbing and compelling stories for film. The Interrogation of Olivia Donovan is inexplicably no exception. It blends intense dialogue, a haunting score, and an engaging backdrop to create a drama you will not soon forget.
The short film instantly immerses the viewer in on the situation — a news broadcast is reporting the latest on an abducted little girl. Subsequently, the main suspect, Bradley Donovan, is arrested. Following the arrest, the police are led to his wife to find out if she knows the whereabouts of the missing child. DI Watkins (Cristian Solimeno) and psychologist Sarah Hardy (Eva Pope) are sent to interrogate Olivia Donovan (Ellie Paskell).
What is most striking from first glance is the cinematography. The audience is treated to an opening credit sequence that is shot to sheer flair in the form of an establishing shot and is consistently visually pleasing throughout; not to mention the fantastic score by Derek Kirkup, which consists of empowering strings that add effective eeriness to the film. These aspects underplay the film’s tone with great atmosphere, conveying a sense of hopelessness as to where the girl is.
At least, that is what the film is initially focusing on. However, this story is about the well-written and suspenseful interrogation as well as the character Olivia. The audience is introduced to her skilfully and with dramatic irony, adding another layer to the titular sequence as it plays out. As it turns out, it is more of a cat-and-mouse game, with revelations being revealed in various creative ways.
Solimeno and Pope have good chemistry together as a team, all the while being very different to each other in the way that makes for some dynamic dialogue in the interrogation scene, with Pope particularly standing out with her restrained and completely realistic portrayal. Paskell, being the main character, has the most screen time to show off her acting prowess. She plays a young woman with conflicted emotions that the audience will also share throughout and after — when the film concludes with its superbly shocking ending. To discuss this further would be to spoil the film.
Another aspect to really admire is the use of sound and plot devices to drive the film forward. Most objects focused on, such as photos of the missing girl, play a big part in the development of the plot. This can be also said when the music increases its tone during particular actions of characters, especially within the interrogation scene when the earlier mentioned revelations are revealed. The audience will have to pay attention to what is being said and done to appreciate the piece as a whole, but thankfully not to a superfluous extent, which makes the viewing experience all the more satisfying.
By the time this short had finished, I wanted more. Thankfully, a 4-part mini-series called ‘See What We’ve Become’ may be created, which explores the characters and consequences even further. And with material like this, I would not expect less, as director Carl Mackenzie’s The Interrogation of Olivia Donovan is an emotional, dense, and suspenseful showcase of simply solid drama.