Former Charmed star and indie darling Rose McGowan delivered her short film to Sundance last winter where it received rave reviews. The project is now finally available on Youtube for all to see, but what’s my verdict?
McGowan has had a long and healthy career, where she has played a variety of intriguing and different roles from a sociopathic teen killer in Jawbreaker, to a kick-ass witch in Charmed. .But it’s her latest venture behind the camera that’s bound to give her a well devised career switch.
The film which is just shy of 20 minutes, is set in 1961, where a young girl named Dawn lives a sheltered life by her parents right at the point where she is entering womanhood, but it is an encounter with her biggest crush that shakes up her bland existence.
Tara Lynne Barr plays the title character and is a remarkable choice for the lead role, it’s her sickeningly sweet and naive performance that’s perhaps the most gripping part of the tale and Barr delivers on all accounts with a doe-eyed expression and an awkward teenage disposition. Supporting players such as Hannah Marks and Reiley McClendon are also well-chosen and fulfill their purposes in different ways to move the story along.
However, the true star of the show is Rose McGowan, who displays a beautiful, vintage portrait of the 60’s and she’s incredibly meticulous to detail, from home decor to styling, its the distinct flare, it feels like every decision whether it be the props used or the lighting, everything has a message or an ulterior motive. But most of all, it is the use of bold, contrasting colour that creates a magnetising quality, making it hard to look away.
Despite this being a short, the film does an excellent job at displaying a gradual change of mood, which begins as the blossoming of a coming-of-age romance but bleeds into an unsettling final act. In perhaps my only complaint, the poor choice McGowan made of using the first few seconds as a cliched jump to one of the final moments is one not needed, more impact and investment would have been made had we not already seen a glimpse of whats to come.
In but a small runtime, Dawn manages to package and tie with a bow many existential messages and if you look closely enough, important issues such as male gaze, societal expectations of women and teen culture are present without coming off as preachy, this combined with its setting perhaps show that society hasn’t progressed as well as we’d hope when it comes to portrayals of women in society. It is also worth mentioning how intriguing it is to see these characters interact, especially when motivations come into play, I won’t spoil, but when true reasons behind the situations are revealed, they are so gloriously simple that it will send a chilling tingle down your spine.
Overall, Dawn is a rare gem that doesn’t come often enough. McGowan’s debut directorial effort shows a graceful maturity that can only elevate her prospects and we all should be interested in seeing what she does next. This is a film I urge you to watch.
Dawn is available to view for FREE on Youtube, view the film below: