Brett Michael Innes‘ short film ‘Blue Dress‘ sees a young father seeking forgiveness for the rape that he committed years ago in university. By reaching out to the woman he assaulted, he hopes to let go of the guilt he’s been carrying all these years. She agrees to meet with him after hours at her office and it is there that the two of them have a conversation that will forever change their lives.

Francis Chouler and Amalia Uys, respectively playing assaulter Daniel and survivor Claire, face off in an elaborately honest way, in which both recall the events of that night. Daniel still distraught by that one indelible date night, clearly regrets what he’s done. Claire visibly unimpressed with Daniel’s emotions, keeps a straight face. Chouler and Uys meticulously tell their characters’ unsettling story, showing how despondent both of these individuals lives have become in very different ways, giving nuanced performances that stay clear of the expected bells and whistles, helping you to focus on the scars they hide from the world around them.

Brett’s refined direction and writing showcases his talent once again. After witnessing his terrific retelling of ‘Fiela Se Kind‘, for which he won Best Feature Film and Best Achievement in Script Writing at this year’s South African Film and Television Awards, he keeps finding ways to challenge himself in exploring new grounds that push to tell more original stories that leave a mark on you. Blue Dress is drenched in its titular colour, which could represent a series of things, such as Claire’s loss of trust.

Blue Dress isn’t like taking a “blue pill” to remain in blissful ignorance, but makes you uncomfortable by facing the brutal truth and the true to life reality in dealing with sexual assault, and forever losing what wasn’t given in the first place. It leaves you transfixed by the painful reality that unfortunately usually remains unspoken.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Blue Dress‘ will have its African premiere at South Africa Independent Film Festival – Virtual Edition 2020, from August 14 – August 30. Tickets are available HERE

SAIFF Short Film Review – ‘Blue Dress’

Reviewed online (screener provided by director), August 11, 2020. Running time: 24 min.

PRODUCTION: A Nostalgia Productions, Moving Billboard Picture Company production. Producers: Paulo Areal, Schalk Willem Burger, Brett Michael Innes.

CREW: Director/screenplay: Brett Michael Innes. Editor: Jacques Jay Loots. Cinematography: Cobus Oosthuizen.

WITH: Francis Chouler, Amalia Uys, Llewellyn Steenkamp, Drikus Volschenk.

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