Joseph Castanon, Ron Canada, Kelly Ann Ford, Robert Gantzos
"Little Wings" Review
"Little Wings" is a deeply moving short film that explores the trauma of child abuse through the eyes of 10-year-old Thomas (Joseph Castanon). Thomas is growing up in a seemingly idyllic country home with a loving mother (Kelly Ann Ford, "Beyond the Ring") but a horribly abusive father (Robert Gantzos, "Soldier of God").
When his mother shares with Thomas the Legend of the Butterfly, which states if you whisper a wish to a butterfly the butterfly will then fly off to the heavens to grant the wish, Thomas escapes more and more into the dream world of butterflies as his only escape. When a kindly man (Ron Canada, "Boston Legal") shows up at the farmhouse unexpectedly, Thomas finds hope and the path to joy.
Virtually every aspect of Rhodes' film works beautifully, from the starkly realistic to the magical world of the butterflies. "Little Wings" opened during the 2007 Cannes Film Festival as part of the festival's "Short Film Corner," indicative of the film's power and beauty.
The ensemble cast is stellar, most notably the young yet veteran television actor Joseph Castanon. Castanon's vulnerability onscreen is astounding as he slowly moves from seriously wounded child into the land of joy. Ron Canada, an actor with numerous television and film credits, evokes the spirit of James Earl Jones as the kindly spirit who guides Thomas to a safer space despite his worries about his mother.
Kelly Ann Ford is heartbreaking as the equally trapped wife/mother just trying to love her little boy, while Robert Gantzos does a nice job as the abusive father without ever crossing the line into caricature.
Rhodes' script is a perfect blend of intelligence, innocence and raw emotion, while Seamus Tierney's cinematography clearly keeps the focus on young Thomas through the film's sorrows and joys. The film is capped by the inspired score of Benedikt Brydern.
Fans of short film will adore this wonderful film from Morgan Rhodes, a film that tackles a challenging subject with intelligence, grace and humanity through the eyes of a child.