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Amelia and Michael

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Director  Daniel Cormack
Music director  Nick Loe
Duration  
Country  United Kingdom
6.6/10 IMDb

Genre  Short, Drama, Mystery
Screenplay  Stephen Betts
Writer  Stephen Betts
Language  English
Amelia and Michael movie poster
Release date  24 August 2007 (2007-08-24) (Montreal World Film Festival)
Cast  Anthony Head, Julian Lee, Natasha Powell, Justin Stahley
Similar movies  Titanic, Sex Tape, Salt, Dial M for Murder, The Time Traveler's Wife, IMAX 3D Deep Sea

Amelia and Michael is a 2007 British drama short film directed by Daniel Cormack, starring Anthony Head and Natasha Powell and executive produced by Richard Johns.

Contents

Amelia and Michael Amelia and Michael Filmfestivalscom

In 2010, Amelia and Michael was selected for preservation by the British Film Institute's National Archive and was archived by the British Universities Film and Video Council as part of their Television and Radio Index for Learning and Teaching (TRILT). In 2012, the film was acquired by the British Library's Moving Image Collection.

Plot

Amelia (Natasha Powell) and Michael (Anthony Head), a smartly dressed middle aged couple, sit in silence in the back of a chauffeur-driven sedan as it pulls up at the lights beside a motorcycle. Arriving outside a restaurant, Amelia kisses Michael goodbye and walks towards the entrance. When the sedan is out of sight, Amelia removes her wedding ring and hails a cab to an alternative destination. Back in his office, Michael is interrupted by his colleague Francis (Julian Lee) in the middle of booking an anniversary meal and hotel room for Friday. On Friday morning, Michael leaves for a business trip to Milan, giving Amelia some flowers before he departs. Once he has gone, Amelia travels to the hospital bedside of an incapacitated young man on whose table is a photo of Amelia and the man astride a motorcycle. Meeting with a consultant afterwards she signs consent forms for his care. Meanwhile, Michael is not in Milan, but at the restaurant he booked the previous day where he meets a call-girl who he later sleeps with in his hotel room. Restlessly trying to sleep after she leaves, he is interrupted by a phone call from Francis, who has discovered his whereabouts in order to urgently discuss 'the Thompson case'. Michael returns home the next morning and exchanges pleasantries with Amelia whilst opening his post, before taking a bath. While tidying away the opened mail, Amelia discovers Michael's unused passport in a kitchen drawer, but before she can confront him, she receives a phone call from the hospital. Dashing to the bedside of the incapacitated man, she arrives too late; discovering the man has died and the nurses are changing the sheets in preparation for the next patient. Returning home that evening, she bursts into tears. Michael - who has discovered his passport out on the kitchen table and believes he has been caught out - assumes she is upset at his infidelity. He apologises and embraces Amelia, who does not reveal the true cause of her upset. In the final scene, Amelia and Michael sit in silence in the sedan as a motorcycle pulls up beside them at the lights.

Cast

Anthony Head agreed to appear in the film despite the fact that he "didn't know [the producers] from Adam" and even waived his fee, telling Hotdog that "the script was really nice and basically it was one of those deals where you can do something helpful for somebody...if I can help somebody - and usually the problem is time - then why not?...So you know if I can give them my time I'm going learn as much from them as they are from me." The film was shot concurrently with Head's appearance as Jeff Golding in Simon Gray's Otherwise Engaged at the Criterion Theatre in London's West End with Head commenting that "[Amelia and Michael] was incredibly professionally put together, they were a really good crew and they got me in and out as quickly as they could, which was perfect."

Production

The film went into production while its director Daniel Cormack was working at the box office of the Electric Cinema and was receiving hardship funding from the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund. Having received an initial allocation of funds from Hammersmith and Fulham's media support agency Focus West, Daniel Cormack went on to gain funding from his boss at the Electric Cinema, and Soho House founder, Nick Jones among others.

The film was shot on a relatively low budget and saved money by making extensive use of product placement, securing free goods and services from Jaguar Cars, BUPA, the Royal Park Hotel, Margaret Howell and the West Cornwall Pasty Company. As a result, it was the subject of a case study at the Encounters Film Festival during the panel discussion Brands and Filmmakers: "in essence [Daniel Cormack] just smiled sweetly, asked for favors as he went along, and got them" although using genuine expensive brands ran into problems "when he found himself pondering the use of real diamonds rather than fakes" before realising that the "hundreds of thousands of pounds worth" of jewellery would have to be insured and that costume jewellery would easily suffice. Nonetheless, as Anthony Head noted: "Amelia and Michael was a learning curve for director and producers and by the time we finished they had made really good use of the facilities they managed to blag. I love it when something feels that vibrant and that close to the root of things, when it hasn't got a lot of money thrown at it, and it's edgy."

Both Anthony Head and Daniel Cormack remarked on how supportive the crew were of their debut director during filming. Head commented: "once he got into the groove and realised how supportive his crew were, he got into it and he was great, really good." Cormack later told the BECTU journal Stage, Screen and Radio: "I made the film as a total novice whose only experience of film production was from reading books and whose only qualification to be a director was a love of film. Luckily I had a very talented and experienced crew around me and Amelia and Michael was a great success".

Though shot in 2005, post-production was not completed until 2007. An unfinished version was shortlisted for the Akira Kurosawa Memorial Short Film Competition in 2006.

Festivals

In addition to a short theatrical run before the feature presentations at the Broadway Theatre, Amelia and Michael screened on the festival circuit from its world premiere at the A-list Montréal World Film Festival in 2007 through to 2010.

Broadcast

In 2010, Amelia and Michael was broadcast on Channel 4 as part of "a series of short original films produced by a variety of talented writers and directors"; the first time in over 8 years that Channel 4 had acquired and broadcast independent short films.

Critical response

Reviews focused on the acting, production values and pacing of the film, as well as its ambiguous ending. Jeff Shannon of The Seattle Times commented on the "fine acting and first rate production values." Hotdog remarked that "this short is beautifully shot, gently taking its time to unfold, and the presence of actors like stage and screen veteran Head really raises the bar a notch", concluding that "despite the sombre subject matter, there's a strange comfort to be found in the final minute of the film" and that "on this evidence, Cormack is a young director to watch." Paul Strange called the film "a delight" and "intriguing" and made it a drama 'Pick of the Day' on DigiGuide stating: "Nicely observed by director Daniel Cormack, both Powell and Head are super here, and the drama leaves you wanting a lot more, which is terrific. Highly recommended." Expanding on the theme of ambiguity and the indeterminate ending, Abigail Lelliot of Time Out London observed that "Anthony Head packs an emotional punch in this pacey drama" and that in spite of "some slightly cliched compositions...the direction succinctly navigates the twists of the plot to a gratifyingly ambiguous conclusion." In addition to noting the "great performances", "beautiful photography" and "real sense of cinema", Shooting People's Ben Blaine picked up on the film's European sensibility, reflecting that "it felt very European, like one of those films in which Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche fall in love and break up, one of those films that somehow, as a rule, we can’t do in this country. With this well cast, well acted, well made film Daniel Cormack seems therefore to be breaking all the rules without breaking sweat or showing off."

Judi Dench, who supported the production of the film, described it as "beautiful" and said that its director was "destined for great things."

Accolades

Amelia and Michael has a rating of 7.9 out of 10 from IMDb's top 1,000 voters.

References

Amelia and Michael Wikipedia
Amelia and Michael IMDb Amelia and Michael themoviedb.org


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