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The Independent Critic

Jeaux Bartley, Joseph Rene, Gloria Bueno
Alex Ramirez
28 Mins.

 Jarringly Intimate "The Quiet Shore" Continues Fest Run 

Elena (Jeaux Bartley) is a beautiful young woman, a renowned artist whose passions are obvious as we're introduced to her in the opening moments of writer/director Alex Ramirez's jarringly intimate and emotionally complex short film The Quiet Shore. 

Elena is married to Adrian (Joseph Rene) and it's obvious within these opening moments that the two of them are a loving couple yet a couple whose marriage has become strained under the demands of Elena's recently diagnosed ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and an even more recent accident that has left her injured, facing a serious medical regimen of doctors' appointments and therapies that can improve but not cure her condition, and increasingly facing the realization that she will likely be physically dependent for the rest of her life. 

During a trip to the shore for a routine check-up, the marital strains are magnified and one can practically feel the widening chasm between Elena and Adrian and Elena and her own physical being. Desperate for some semblance of who she was and the life she had, Elena brings forth a revelation that immerses you deeply within the final few moments of The Quiet Shore and makes this a film you won't soon forget. 

The film is driven by the compelling, honest chemistry between Bartley and Rene that convinces even amidst its fractures. The tension welling up inside Adrian is palpable, while Bartley's Elena is aching with vulnerability meets resignation meets desperation. While we often associate diseases such as ALS with older Americans, such an association is not much more than a myth and The Quiet Shore brings forth the myriad of ways in which ALS impacts and devastates human beings and human relationships. Mason O'Neill Hunsicker's lensing is uncomfortably intimate and refuses to turn away or flinch, while the original score by Stephen Flores washes over you like the coastal waves featured so prominently throughout the film's 28 minute running time. 

Jordan Moreno's editorial work allows the film's uncomfortable moments to linger, our own discomfort inevitable as we realize that Elena is experiencing a life from which she cannot escape. Kudos as well to Brandi Zancketti for costume design that feels honest and real and part of the tapestry woven within Marbel Uvalle's sparse yet effective production design. 

While undeniably having its festival run impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, The Quiet Shore has been an official selection of West Texas Film Festival, South Texas Underground Film Festival, South Texas International Film Festival, and was a daily short pick at Film Shortage. 

One can only hope that the pandemic calms itself down and even more people get to witness this unique, inspired short film that mines the depths of the emotional and physical lives of its characters and does so with uncommon honesty. 

For more information on The Quiet Shore, visit the film's website linked to in the credits. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic