Directed By: Karen Lam
Recently, director Karen Lam returned from a whirlwind trip to Cannes where she premiered her latest short film at the Cannes’ Short Film Corner. One does not simply get into this sort of event, so I’d like to start this review by applauding Karen for all of her hard work and exceptional talent. There are nowhere near enough directors out there today willing to take the time to hone their skills for the sake of their work. Karen not only labors for her passion of film making, she also has an amazing sense for the visual aspects of the trade- her shorts aren’t watered down with dialogue. There are no wasted frames. Karen is a director who knows how to tell a story and keep you captivated. No small feat for any director, let alone a short film director.
Having already established a glowing reputation and résumé with 2007’s ‘The Cabinet’ and 2011’s ‘Doll Parts’ (both shorts) and her 2010 feature film debut with ‘Stained’, Karen takes the dark fairy tale genre and creates an engrossing five and a half minute short called ‘The Stolen’.
Karen herself admits it’s the film “closest to (her) actual visual aesthetic”, having grown up fascinated with the dark tales of Hans Christian Anderson. Much like real life, these tales rarely ended with happy endings and drove forward with unforgiving morals.
In all of Lam’s work, her respect and passion towards visual aesthetic shines and ‘The Stolen’ is no exception. The surrounding scenery of a dishwater sky spitting rain, foreboding woods and then a splash of warm sunshine adds such a depth to the entire story that this film excels in less than six minutes just as much as a feature length film would.
‘The Stolen’ centers around a young girl named Essie (played by the sweet and innocent Lilah Fitzgerald), who is wandering through a wooded area that Lam and her director of photography, Bob Aschmann, capture gorgeously throughout the short. Soon, little Essie (dressed in a red rain slicker that can only conjure up visions of Little Red Riding Hood) comes across a group of bullies harassing a fellow boy.
The bully victim is a young boy named Sebastian who, in another nod to the fairy tale structure, is trapped in a cage. Little Essie is assured if she frees him, he will grant her a wish.
Essie is struggling to cope with the death of her father and when she laments “everything has been so bad since Dad died”, it’s clear the child has only the best intentions for her wish.
When Sebastian is freed, Essie sees his true identity take shape. Accompanied by a fairy queen (played by Sarah Lind, who portrayed the dangerously gorgeous Evangeline in Lam’s ‘Doll Parts’), Sebastian and Essie embrace to make the girl’s wish come true.
Like any good fairy tale, ‘The Stolen’ spins an enchanting tale that ultimately becomes a cautionary tale about the ignorant innocence of the film’s lead. Be careful what you wish for- dark consequences are always right around the corner.
As a fellow dark fairy tale fan, I loved this short. Lam has never disappointed with her work and I am already chomping at the bit for Karen’s next project.
MY GRADE: 10/10
For more information on Karen’s work, please check out her official website.
I had the great pleasure of interviewing Karen a while back for this blog. Check it out here!
My review of ‘Doll Parts’ can be read here.