If you know the work of Irish writer/director Stephen Broekhuizen, you could be excused for expecting his latest short film, the indie drama Yesterday, to go a direction it never actually goes. While a somewhat unexpected experience, Yesterday is a lovely and engaging short film about a group of five childhood pals who reconnect after ten years apart following the death of a mutual friend.
With a terrific ensemble cast, Yesterday is a quietly immersive experience that draws you into its story without ever resorting to the usual histrionics one often finds with this type of film. It's not an unfamiliar story, really, but it always feels like an authentic one and that's what makes Yesterday a rather special experience.
Broekhuizen has been honest that Yesterday is, on some level, his own exploration of grief as he dealt with the complicated journey that grief is and the ways in which it lingers in our hearts and minds. That's what filmmakers do, really. They explore life through film and Yesterday feels like that sort of gentle, honest, and authentic exploration that you can't help but resonate with because Broekhuizen so thoroughly puts out there the awkward gathering of friends, the melancholy rituals and resignations, and the deep, vulnerable soul searching that one experiences when left alone with grief.
It's all there. It's all present within Yesterday.
If you're not stranger to grief, Yesterday will resonate deeply. Even if you are a stranger to grief, I'd dare say that Yesterday will resonate deeply as a rich and familiar human experience.
We all deal with grief in different ways. Broekhuizen seems to understand that as key players like Tadhg Devery, Miriam Kelleher, Cristina Ryan and others weave their emotional and physical experiences of grief with a simple, yet poignant, majesty that reveals the ways in which we remember, talk, share, play, laugh, and weep our way through the grieving journey that never quite ends but somehow becomes part of our human landscape.
The closing scene of Yesterday is, quite simply, a sublime piece of cinema and a sublime ending to a thought-provoking, insightful, and satisfying indie short that is in the early days of its indie fest journey. If you get a chance, Yesterday is definitely a film you'll want to check out.