I should get some disclosure out of the way upfront. Heart Failure is a short film made by Will Wightman, a dear friend of mine. We went to sixth form together, I visited him a few times at Uni and he has asked me to write this piece about his short film to try and spread the word about it. I also helped fund Heart Failure during its Kickstarter campaign, for which I am thanked in the credits. These things are important for me to get out of the way at the start because I believe in some form of integrity. If I don’t have a large readership and I barely have talent, I might as well have integrity. If I thought Heart Failure was not worth your time, I would not be writing this review about it. Fortunately, it is my absolute pleasure to indulge Will’s request because having seen his previous short films, I am delighted to say that this one is his best yet, a true delight from start to finish.
Also it’s a musical. Filmed during COVID-19. Made by students.
The story of Heart Failure may sound familiar to you. A guy (Frank) and a girl (Lizzie) meet in a club, have a one night stand and then fail to do that bit at the end where they don’t see each other again. They begin dating but Frank has to face up to having caught feelings after getting a “we need to talk” text from Lizzie. This is a short film, so we’re not exactly going for 2001: A Space Odyssey here, we can’t chart the evolution of mankind in ten minutes. What we can chart is the evolution of one man, having to go through a situation that a lot of young men go through, depicted in all its drunken highs and downbeat lows. Oh, and also it’s a musical. That was filmed during the COVID-19 lockdown that the UK had in 2021. Made by students. This is the time to realise how impressive everything about this film is.
The thing I love most about Heart Failure is it has this incredible propulsive energy, with each scene flowing together all buttery smooth like. Will has been a huge fan of Edgar Wright for as long as I’ve known him and you feel that through his editing style. It bounces and moves and it’s hard to know how else to describe it other than it is put together in a way that makes the ten minutes absolutely fly by. Helping the film go down easy is the music that fuels this musical, written by Will W and his partner in crime Will Marchant. The two have a history in assorted teenage bands but somehow this information feels like I’m underpreparing you for what to expect from their EDM musical. It’s not a genre of music I know much about, I’ll admit, but their take on it is very catchy. The songs have been going through my head ever since I saw the film and I’m very ready for them to start streaming online soon.
I should take a moment now and make sure I give massive credit to all of the cast and crew who helped make Heart Failure the triumph it is. I keep referring to Will because it’s easy, he’s the director and my mate, but he has surrounded himself with people who are just as (if not even more) talented than he is. I’ve already mentioned Will Marchant, also doing duty as the director of photography and giving Will W someone to go insane with. While the two of them do their thing behind the scenes, their cast work magic in front of the camera. Leon Newman leads as Frank and is fab, Izzie Fryman leaves a real impression with her fleeting performance as Lizzie, but my favourite of the cast is Harry Hancock as Ali. They have the smallest role of the three but get to play deliciously into and against genre convention, making the very most of every second they’re onscreen. These five had help from countless others, but to name a few there’s Cleo Yeomans as producer, Georgia Cunningham as 1st assistant director and Adam Pemberton as 1st assistant camera. It’s hard as a viewer to place who behind the scenes is responsible for what part of the final product, so I just wanted to throw out a couple of names as a way of saying “everyone here clearly did a great job because the film just works”.
I found myself struck by the immense passion Heart Failure is filled with.
As one final note, I found myself struck by the immense passion Heart Failure is filled with. I mentioned it at the start, but I visited Will a few times while he was studying in Falmouth and watching his film, you feel this overpowering adoration for the town. The production didn’t have the budget to create sets or even borrow someone else’s set, so it’s all filmed in and around Falmouth. A couple of shots of the horizon particularly capture the magic of this magical town and it certainly separates this film from Will’s previous Cambridge set ones. The humour of those films remain but with the change in location, there comes too a slight change in tone. I know this isn’t deliberate because despite my recommendation he still hasn’t seen it, but there’s a hint of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to the plot, in which we’re encouraged to celebrate poor and cyclical decision making in the face of love. It’s not heavy or even unfamiliar feeling, just a new wrinkle of emotional complexity being added and feeling right at home.
Like I’ve said, take my opinion with a pinch of salt but I love this film. The fact it exists is a minor miracle and therefore the fact that it’s this good does force me to consider the fact that Will Wightman may have sold his soul to whatever the filmmaking equivalent of the devil is. I cannot recommend enough checking it out. It’s only ten minutes, it’s a hell of a lot of fun and Will would seriously appreciate the support. If you are interested, the film is embedded below, give it a look!