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Eight (1998)

Original Title : Eight
Director : Stephen Daldry
Writer : Tim Clague
Genre : Short
Country : UK
Language : English
Producer : Jonathan Finn
Photography : John Pardue
IMDB ID : 0205903
Official site : http://www.projector.demon.co.uk/nthat.html
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poster for "Eight" by Stephen Daldry (1998)
Eight (1998) - Stephen Daldry
 

Starring

Jack Langan-Evans Jonathan
Mark E'von Terry
Mark E'von Terry
 

Plot

A day in the life of an eight-year-old soccer fan who has to come to terms with living in a strange new town and the loss of his father.
 

Comments

A great little short that is interesting and well acted Jonathon is an eight year old who is struggling to come to terms with the loss of his father and the fact that he has just moved to a new town with his mother. We spend a day in his company as he talks about his thoughts, runs along the beach and watches Owen scoring against Argentina in the World Cup in France during 1998. He wears it well for a child but Jonathon says more than he thinks he does about his feelings. The year before he made Billy Elliott, Stephen Daldry made this short film which he himself describes as a trial run for that feature. Certainly in terms of visuals and the subject of childhood feelings, this is a good run up and also a good story in its own right. The film opens with an annoyingly loud eight year old shouting at the sky –, an experience that those non-parents among us will shudder at, but happily such scenes are dispensed with after this point. Instead what we are given is a very well written story with a constant narration from Jonathon himself. The dialogue feels very natural and yet also reveals quite a lot in the way a child would. Some of what is said is touching and I was surprised that the writer had done such a good job of writing words that sound natural from an 8 year old but also managed to get a lot of meaning into them. The delivery is also excellent. Daldry's direction is really good and the film certainly doesn't look like one of the many low budget short films that I have seen –, it felt really professional and looked great whether it was on a beach or in a bedroom. The minimal kitchen set was my favourite, with Jonathon's mother visibly upset through one of those serving hatch window things –, clever shot I thought. The real surprise of the piece was my third surprising child performance of the day (the first two were in The Return) from Langan-Evans, he is natural, confident and delivers his lines well. He may not have fully understood what he was being asked to say but he delivers his lines like he was really thinking them himself. Overall this is a really good little short film. The production values and direction make it feel very professional indeed and the writing is natural and very well observed throughout. A great, confident little performance from Langan-Evans in the lead role only serves to make it better. A strong film indeed and if Daldry did use this as a run up to Billy Elliott then he certainly got off on the right foot.