Brothers at war

Review: All God’s Creatures

Director: Brendon McDonall

The short film All God’s Creatures takes a snapshot out of the lives of Charlie and Asher, two brothers who have recently lost their father. A shockingly real depiction of anger and grief, it is more than confronting, if I could describe it in one word I would say haunting.

As a short film, this story has to be told in such a short space of time that to understand the story you need to peek between the lines and see the layers and layers of subtext spread throughout the film. You also need to understand or at least be empathetic to how hard it is to lose someone and to be lost yourself.

The characters Charlie and Asher have so much unresolved conflict, it’s the small things that break them. The dynamic of the duo is clear with Asher as the older brother taking advantage of his little brother.

In this case, the characters make the film. These boys are simply very young, they’ve lost a loved one and they each respond in different ways. In what I would describe it as a twisted version of the fight or flight response, Asher fights with himself and everyone around him, Charlie flies back into himself. When watching, remember that these are young children playing young children so don’t expect Oscar winning performances. But  for their age, these boys have done a brilliant job.

Anyone who has a sibling can relate to the stress and angst that these boys experience but there is no doubt that these boys’ conflict is on another level. The conflict is extremely intense and the cinematography doesn’t try to hide any of the gory details.

The title, All God’s Creatures, comes from Charlie’s scrabble game. Charlie creates a game and spells out the words, All God’s Creatures, with rocks. Charlie doesn’t eat anything with a face and he is incredibly against the killing of animals. It’s fascinating how such a young boy made the choice to become vegetarian but his reasoning isn’t fully revealed.

It’s also interesting that the title hints at the fact that the story will have elements about faith or Christianity but there really isn’t any mention apart from Charlie not wanting to eat any of God’s Creatures. This implies that there is some Christian subtext, but nothing is specifically said.

As people of faith, this story should encourage us to be empathetic. You never know what is going on in other people’s heads. Grief can affect everyone differently and to love our neighbours we need to be able to understand our neighbours.

For anyone who has lost a loved one recently, I suggest you proceed with caution. Although this film is short, it doesn’t shy away from the cruelty and horror of death. The craziness that is being family is put under the spotlight like never before and I would definitely not describe this as an easy watch. That being said, I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good short film and a bittersweet ending.

All God’s Creatures is streaming now on ABC iView.

Susannah Cornford




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