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The Independent Critic

Mark Ashworth, Rachel Hendrix, Cranston Johnson, Isaiah Stratton, Jay C. Russell
Justin Robinson

 "Grape Soda" an Extremely Moving Indie Short 

if I had any doubt about Mark Ashworth's acting talent after spying his work in the short film American Hell, which I didn't, it ended after watching writer/director Justin Robinson's intensely moving and beautifully constructed Grape Soda, a wonderfully intimate yet universal tale about a man, Bobby (Ashworth), whose marriage to Sherry (Rachel Hendrix) is broken yet possibly being held together only by the mighty strength of something called grape soda.

Grape Soda isn't exactly what you expect it to be when the opening credits roll and you watch Bobby walking in on a situation not unlike that faced by many other struggling married couples.

Yet, in this moment and in the moments that follow we get glimpses of the truth behind Bobby's almost overwhelming sense of melancholy, a melancholy that has seemingly enveloped his entire being. It is to the major credit of Robinson and his D.P. Brent Christy that as the closing credits for Grape Soda were rolling that I found myself less focused on remembering the film's technical aspects and more appreciating having just been seventeen minutes with such an emotionally resonant and compelling story.

I found myself mumbling to myself "Was the photography black-and-white or was the atmosphere just so perfect I didn't notice?"

Truthfully, I think it was the latter.

Christy's lensing was intimate, at times uncomfortably so with a level of quiet vulnerability that leaves you having to remember to breathe. Yet, truthfully, this film soars on the strength of Ashworth's almost aching performance as a  man dealing, and quite often not dealing, with one of life's most challenging experiences.

From original music that walks gingerly through its fabric to Robinson's own ability to edit the film in a way that allows thoughts, words, and ideas to linger, Grape Soda is a heartbreakingly honest journey through the life experiences that threaten to tear us apart and those simple little things that hold us together.

For more information on the film and Justin Robinson, visit Robinson's website linked to in the credits.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic