Editors Note: “Price is Right” is a running column from local film enthusiast Mr. Price. He reviews selected Strasburg Film Festival films. If he posts a negative review, then the Shenandoah Film Collaborative will respond within his reviews as to why we selected the certain film. By going about it this way, we can help ensure the reader that these are honest film reviews.
The majority of “Within” consists of a close shot of Michael, played by Neil Hobbs, telling his story in a documentary-style format. This and other of the film’s stylistic choices serve to keep our focus squarely on Michael, and the result is a tragic, moving story carried by a brilliant performance.
Dramatic short films can often suffer from the limited time they have to connect the audience with the characters and story. “Within” manages to avoid this problem by taking a large risk in having Hobbs alone with the camera for the majority of the run time. And this risk pays off enormously; Hobbs’ performance is captivating, and we are immediately and completely drawn into Michael’s painful retelling of the worst day of his life. Every piece of the film is designed to connect us with Michael. The dark background of the interview room, the out-of-focus landscape of the end of the film, the absence of music leaving only silence when Michael isn’t speaking, all keep our attention fixed wholly on his story.
“Within” achieves in its short run time the emotional resonance many feature length films struggle to establish. The weight of the film rests almost entirely on Michael, and an absolutely incredible performance from Hobbs cements the success of “Within”. From stark opening to bittersweet end, “Within” is a testament to the power of one performance to make or break a film.