Singing to Myself
Review by Emily Jelliffe
After viewing Harmony Wagner’s film, Singing to Myself, my impression as I stood up to clap with the full house of satisfied viewers was a pulling sensation at my heart.
It wasn’t just the beautiful Jenn Grant song that ran with the ending credits, or the delightful closing scene in the film that moved me. It was the storytelling of two main characters whose chemistry, sincerity and bravery brought life into this inspired script. It was the stunning Island landscape and the insightful dialogue that left me with so much to contemplate. It was a sense that there was a new space being held; a space for integrity, friendship, acceptance and above all, a space for love, and that somehow my heart was part of it.
I was also left with a feeling of awe that writer-director Harmony Wagner was able to achieve this feat with a very limited budget and timeframe. She took the 1K Wave Challenge and assembled a team of alchemists who produced gold.
Singing to Myself was a labor of love that succeeds because of the generosity of those involved, the cumulative talents of the cast and crew and the careful craftsmanship of the production.
Our two leads, Sophie MacLean and Bryde MacLean (who are not related) bring Iris and Celeste to life with ease and integrity.
Sophie takes her time carving out the subtleties of Iris, a young deaf woman who is working on creating her own version of contentment. She crafts a grounded character who has a thick skin but reveals an underlying sensitive nature through her curiosity and quiet affections.
The film’s use of silence and sound painted an audible landscape that brought me closer to understanding some of Iris’s experience. This was magnified by the brilliant use of camera that heightened my sense of sight through vibrant colors and dramatic aperture changes.
Celeste, played by Bryde, is colorful and transparent with her emotions. She is a great joy to watch with her relatable self-depreciating honesty and whimsical spirit.
Though unassuming at first, the film, with its slow rhythm, soon moves effortlessly into a captivating and consuming relationship story.
This isn’t just a story about female friendship, it’s an ode to one’s own quest for love.
To the nature-loving Islander, this full feature film will delight with familiar vistas and hideaways. The photographic skills of Tess Marie Garneau offer us a vivid closeness that beautifully capture the subtle developing intimacy between our two leads and the tone and feeling of the story.
The rest of the supporting characters were aptly cast as each brought forth a quality that gave dimension and power to the unfolding narrative.
The film reflects real-life people and encapsulates an honest female friendship in a believable dialogue that doesn’t oversimplify.
This movie might stretch you as it did me. It might move you into uncomfortable places, have you wanting to shape and define the characters in some way. That is it’s brilliance. Despite your desire to define or judge Iris and Celeste, you end up loving them.
Singing to Myself sings to me!