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Daily Helping for March 18th, 2021 – This Time Away

A photo still from the short film This Time Away of lead actor Timothy Spall and the small robot who becomes his character's companion.

Well, it would seem that this week is film week at the Daily Hart, because today, I have another short film for you. This one caught my eye because the title on YouTube started with “Sci-Fi Short Film”. And this intrigued me. Obviously, I know that short films can be of any genre, but when I think about sci-fi, I think of big budget blockbuster movies. I think about Star Wars, not quiet character studies. But This Time Away promised a sci-fi story in less than 14 minutes, so I decided to check it out. Spoiler alert, I loved it.

This Time Away tells the story of Nigel, a miserable recluse who just wants to be left alone. His wife is gone, he has pushed his daughter away, and he spends his days wallowing in his grief and alcohol. And then one day he accidentally saves the life of a small robot and everything changes. It’s a sweet, poignant, and tender film, with an ending that had me smiling, however bittersweetly. And as usual when I watch a well done short film, I marvelled at how the story was able to make me care about these characters so deeply in such a short amount of time. Especially Max the robot.

Speaking of Max. In my opinion, the filmmakers deserve a special shout out for what they accomplished with that character. Short films rarely have big budgets, and yet Max is rendered beautifully. Certainly as good as anything I’ve seen in films with nine figure budgets. He’s also absolutely adorable, and somehow has amazing chemistry with Timothy Spall who plays Nigel. Spall, for his part, plays the grief-stricken curmudgeon to perfection. Together, they make quite the pair.

I’ve always loved stories that are character studies, and therefore this film was right up my alley. It’s also a refreshing reminder that you don’t need hours of flashy special effects to be good sci-fi. You just need a great story and an adorable robot.


Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!