Sea Wall is a 35-minute film written by Olivier Award-winning Simon Stephens and starring BAFTA-winning actor Andrew Scott.
I’m not going to tell you anything about the story because it will ruin the experience for you, and I fully expect you to spend seven dollars to rent or buy the short film from seawallandrewscott.com. I do want to comment on the production value, though. This story is also a play, so it’s interesting to see it in the medium of a short film. When I started watching it, it felt strange because although Andrew Scott’s movements and expressions are subtle, his delivery and rhythm is quite theatrical, not to mention the lack of camera movements or cuts. (Technically they did hide two cuts just to switch reels.) I have not seen the play, but I imagine that it lacks a certain irony that comes with the presence of the camera, which you figure must be real because he looks into the lens, acknowledging its existence. Alex himself says that one cannot do photography unless one believes in life, but Alex is a man without hope, trying to make sense of a godless world that has not yet discovered all the answers yet, but he believes it will. And all I can think after it’s over is “but it won’t.”
Which brings me to the writing so superb that I actually don’t want to watch it again until I’ve completely forgotten it because I won’t be able to recapture the development of emotion and ideas if I know what’s to come. I also know that I will pick up on new things and that I may even realize I completely misinterpreted the meaning of the play and what the character meant the first time I saw it, but if that’s the case, then I don’t want to be corrected because the concept Stephens left me with at that final line, and with Scott’s delicate delivery of it, it was perfect. I’m sure consecutive times viewing it will be powerful, but each time, it will be different. The film may be captured forever, but the effect it has on you is, like theatre, ephemeral.