Life and the Art of Lying

In a statement, the director and writer Emily Schooley stated that two things inspired her when she dreamt up the movie- one was a ‘stark visual image of a woman on the beach in the snow’ and second was an ‘errant thought’ about the possibility of modern medicine to harbour cures which weren’t being shared with the general population. Seeing the short film, these two ideas definitely jump out to the viewers.

The movie begins with a new year’s party at Charlie’s (Angela Martin) house and in the general humdrum of the festive night two things jump out in subsequent scenes- that Charlie and Mara (Ariana Leask) obviously have feelings for each other and that Charlie is gravely sick.

There is a seemingly nice parallel between the new unconventional treatment which Charlie adopts to fight cancer along with Charlie navigating new relationship waters with Mara. Both the cases require Charlie to go above and beyond her known beliefs and learn to trust another person with her disease. In the former she trusts Dr. Simone (Kelly-Marie Murtha) and takes a leap of faith based on what she said about the ability of non traditional treatments. Ofcourse, the ensuing conversation with Mara on the couch regarding it (there is also a nice touch of adding two rainbow pillows to the couch) shows that Charlie is tired of having the disease and fighting it through chemotherapy only to get a few weeks of life. She wants to try a do- or- die approach with this new cure and she trusts Mara enough to inform her regarding it, unlike how she hid the news from her friends in the past; eventhough it maybe have been selfish of her.

What follows is a rollercoaster discussion between two people- one who has accepted her fate and another who doesn’t want to. Mara feels that it is selfish of Charlie to burden her with the news right then and there and expect her to take it in her stride. There is a point there but it’s pretty clear that Mara is being primarily motivated by grief and the possibility of losing her new found love to this treatment, about which she has no knowledge. While Charlie should have shared the news of her cancer from the beginning to Mara since even before the relationship they were great friends; but it’s obvious that she has trust issues lying underneath. Thus, the two characters reach an impasse and Mara storms out.

The scene where Dr. Simone treats Charlie with the new medicine is chock full of emotion as Mara is still absent and so Charlie twirls her necklace saying that her father always believed that if people loved someone then they would arrive in time. Ofcourse which he, himself never did. True to her words (and as another parallel), Mara too is late but she does arrive to support her (better late than never I guess), seemingly too late as she accuses Dr Simone of killing Charlie. But the treatment works and in a nice closing action to the above parallel, the two people are united.

The monologue by Dr. Simone at the end is really interesting since it’s a contrast to the image of Charlie and Mara standing on the beach covered with snow where everything is still and cloudy. Here the good doctor is standing on a sandy beach, with waves lapping quietly on the shore as the soft sunlight of dusk falls on her. Here Dr. Simone contemplates about the miracle drug which has cured Charlie but she is worried about herself as she thinks about another doctor who had used this new treatment but now has mysteriously disappeared. This makes her think of the big pharmaceutical companies who just want to profit off human lives without any consideration for a person’s right to live. While the ability of modern medicine to cure illnesses and just how much big companies are hiding has always been a debate for long- which has also inspired many conspiracy theories, it’s good to see this being depicted on-screen in a time when TV is flooded with shows about conventional cures.

So ultimately it’s a journey of learning to trust and have faith in another person- for Charlie, this comes full circle.