Monday, January 10, 2011

Shortlisted: Wish 143

Wish-granting charities mean well, but they can be awfully square. They keep offering to introduce David to a British footballer. He is about as interested as an American teen would be. As he makes perfectly clear, he would much rather meet a woman, preferably naked and willing. Unfortunately time is tragically short for the young man in Ian Barnes’ Wish 143, which has been shortlisted for Oscar consideration as best live action short narrative film.

Since the “wishman” is not likely to deliver, David gets the word out himself. He even makes the newspapers, generating some slightly scary propositions. The kindly Priest associated with the hospital hardly approves of such unchecked horniness, but he understands.

In all truth, Wish probably represents the most sympathetic portrayal of a priest on film this year. Jim Carter, poised to breakout in America for his work as Carson the butler on Downton Abbey, invests the good cleric with genuine warmth and humor. He also develops an easy chemistry with Samuel Peter Holland, who is admirably convincing as the young man confronting his mortality at an all too early age. Jodie Whittaker makes a strong impression as well, despite appearing late in the film in a rather sketchily developed part.

Director Barnes and screenwriter Tom Bidwell are veterans of British television, so Wish’s pat sentimentality is hardly surprising. Still, it is executed with a dignity that elevates it above standard Hallmark original movies.

Wish is a nice, harmless little short, featuring a deeply humane supporting turn from Carter. Considering how well it synchs up with Academy tastes, it may well find its way to the final Oscar ballot. Still, Eric D. Howell’s Ana’s Playground represents superior filmmaking in this category. If Wish successfully secures a nomination, look for it play as part of the Academy’s nominated short film showcases in the near future.