Whistler Film Festival Day 19: It Ain’t Easy Being Emma

Jason Whyte | Get Reel Movies

This is the second to last day of my Whistler Film Festival blasts, I have seen way too many movies at this point, and SMALL TIME is an American Indie with an unforgettable pint-sized performance and absolutely worth putting on your home screen of choice. 

Small Time (United States, dir. Niav Conty)

Emma (Audrey Grace Marshall) is a young girl growing up in a poor community, rural America. We meet a few characters around Emma who seem to be behaving strangely. We soon learn that lots of local opioid addiction and despair is surrounding Emma’s community and she has pretty much no one that she can rely on (an exception to this is her cat who follows her all over the place). 

Although I thought SMALL TIME was going in a negative direction at one point, this entire movie works thanks to the outstanding lead performance by young Audrey Grace Marshall as Emma, who has this entire bizarre world all around her that we almost entirely see from her perspective; even the lower camera angles help with this as we see almost everything looking up at everyone along with long takes of her just being watched by us and letting us see and feel her perspective. It feels like she is not only in every scene but almost in every shot, which is never an easy thing for a feature film, let alone an independent one. 

Filmmaker Niav Conty, who is well known as a cinematographer and makes her feature debut here, has an absolute raw talent in this very heavy drama that takes a little bit to get going, but quickly becomes strong viewing as we see an entire unique world around young Emma. I will stress it again, but I am so concerned about good movies like this struggling to find an audience in the future and really wish more people would seek movies like SMALL TIME out. 

Rating: ***½ out of ****

#WFF20 is here! Join in celebrating cinematic excellence with 97 fresh films, including 30 features and 67 shorts, premiering through December 20th and available to Canadian audiences online until December 31. Once you order a film, you have 24 hours to watch it. (We at Get Reel Movies recommend the TV streaming box Apple TV or even the Roku app, both of which I use to stream titles this year.) Plus, WFF has pledged to share net online proceeds on a 50/50 basis directly with the filmmakers or Canadian rights holders.

For more information, visit www.whistlerfilmfestival.com!

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