Short Film, Short Review: WWI Set COWARD Makes A Strong Case For Old Fashioned Sentiment

Ben Umstead, East Coast Editor
We here at Twitch like to champion short films every chance we get, which outside of festivals and the occasional stellar short shared online, is somewhat rare. A while back we got wind of what appeared to be a rather impressive production coming out of Ireland and the UK: a WWI set short called Coward. Now ramping up for what is sure to be a healthy festival run, here's my take on David Roddham's film.

Following two cousins from the sun-dappled countryside of Ireland to the snow and shit streaked trenches of Belgium, Coward focuses itself on the inner prejudices and politics, and eventual injustices of the British Army during the First Word War. In the crosshairs as the Irish cousins, actors Martin McCann and Sean Stewarts put a human print on the subject. And though the boyhood chums are largely our eyes and ears for the picture, the whole ensemble stands strong, helping to shape the distinct flavor of the era, and that of the state of young men in war -- and all in a relatively short time.


What's most liable to get Coward some notice on the international fest circuit is Stephen Murphy's gorgeous 35mm cinematography. Recalling the war epics of studio yesteryear rather than the hand-held heavy pictures of recent, Murphy paints in somber yet richly expressive tones, lensing a world which is just as earthy as it is ethereal. Production design from Roddham, Ty Senior and Emily Durtnall is lovingly done down to the smallest of details, as is makeup and FX work. If nothing else Coward makes a great calling card for each and every department.

Like many directors nowadays Roddham comes from the below-the-line effects side of the industry as a technician, having worked on such tent-pole productions as Snow White And The Hunstman, and most relative to Coward, Saving Private Ryan and War Horse. There's certainly a Spielbergian deftness to Roddham's direction. The film has sentiment and heart to spare, but is never saccharine, and understands and honors its increasingly dark and tragic subject matter. All in all Coward is a solid throwback to classic studio storytelling on an independent scale, which is no small feat.

Coward is scheduled to screen at the Foyle Film Festival in Derry, Northern Ireland on November 25th. Please visit the fest's website for more info and keep an eye out for the film in the coming year at your local/regional fests. Additionally, Roddham passed this message on to me, saying:
Private screenings are being scheduled for Academy and Bafta members. For
details get in touch with themoviecoward@gmail.com 
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