Brow Beat

The Phone Call Is 20 Minutes of Pitch-Perfect, Wrenching Cinema

Sally Hawkins.

RSA Films   

The Phone Call, an elegantly directed short film by Mat Kirkby, has been quietly dominating the festival circuit all year. The short is now available for viewing, and well worth a watch: it’s a wrenching meditation on the small moments that redeem life, and a strong contender for an Oscar nomination.

That being said, expect no intricate plot or clever conceit: The short is just two people talking. One is Heather (the brilliant Sally Hawkins), a worker at a helpline call center; the other is Stanley (Oscar–winner Jim Broadbent), a suicidal man ravaged by the loss of his wife. Their conversation is simple and digressive, but the film’s power—rooted in both the mundane details of their exchange and the enormous stakes at hand—sneaks up on you. Hawkins, who filmed the short right after wrapping production on Blue Jasmine, is especially good, flitting between subtle registers of pain, empathy, and encouragement in the film’s taut 20 minutes.

Update, Oct. 23, 2014: The film doesn’t seem to be embeddable; you can watch it over at Indiewire.