Long Story Short is written and directed by Josh Lawson and stars Rafe Spall, Zahra Newman, Ronnie Chieng, Dena Kaplan, Noni Hazlehurst, and Josh Lawson, who makes a cameo appearance. It'll be in cinemas 11 February 2021.
It's New Year's Eve and as the countdown to midnight begins, Teddy (Rafe Spall) bursts into the party just in the nick of time. Right as the clock strikes midnight, Teddy runs to kiss his girlfriend Becka (Dena Caplan), or who he thinks is his girlfriend, and plants one on her. In fact, it's not his girlfriend at all. It's a complete stranger - Leanne (Zahra Newman), who just so happens to be wearing the same dress. And that's how the story begins for these two strangers.
Fast forward five years and Teddy and Leanne are happily engaged, sharing the sweet story of the proposal at his late father's grave. He wishes he could have gotten his act together sooner so his father could have shared the special moment with them in person. While alone, a woman strikes up a conversation with Teddy and insists that he doesn't waste another second waiting to live his life. Before he knows it, she's convinced him to set a wedding date two weeks from their meeting and tells him that she'll send him something special he needs.
At the wedding, Teddy's best man, Sam (Ronny Chieng), jokes in his speech he can't believe Teddy took this long. Going through the gifts, one strikes Teddy as odd; a tin can with a card that simply says Do not open for 10 years. With other imminent things on his mind on his wedding night, he puts aside the tin can and climbs into bed with his new wife. Waking up the next morning, Teddy is totally confused, and so begins the cycle of fast forwarding in his life.
Star of the movie, British actor Rafe Spall is the beating heart of the film. The sheer volume of dialogue would have been gruelling in this colossal role, done well. He covers every spectrum and facet of his character with precision. He also has to cover a lot of emotional ground with depth and feeling to be believable and yet be comedic at the same time, providing light and shade. He couldn't just be flippant and so light that he wasn't anchoring the film, and he nails it.
I'm happy to report he ticks all the boxes and more. It takes a lot of acting nous and talent to be on screen for every second of the movie saying every alternate line and have your audience hanging on every moment from beginning to end. Rafe brought the spirit of everything Josh had written to life with an astonishing performance! It's no surprise he's the son of a very fine actor -Timothy Spall (Mr Turner, Mrs Lowry & Son, The Last Samura, Harry Potter films etc).
Female lead Zahra Newman is a natural talent to be reckoned with. She's the perfect half to Rafe's character on film as the fun, energetic and impulsive without being reckless, understanding, long suffering other half. She makes the love story believable in her matter of fact, natural style of acting, and her scenes are never contrived.
The surprise package has to be comedian Ronnie Chieng as Sam, Teddy's best friend. You may remember him in Crazy Rich Asians. You will be surprised at his range and his ability - an actor with incredible depth and dynamism who will move you in unexpected ways.
Australian national treasure and superstar Noni Hazlehurst is cast as the stranger in the cemetery and Lawson himself takes on a cameo role in the film. Lastly actress Dena Kaplan plays Becka, Rafe's love interest before he fell for Leanne.
Shooting the entire film on Steadicam under the direction of cinematographer Matt Toll gave the film fluidity, and kept it constantly in motion so you never felt like it was resting in one place. The audience never leaves Teddy's head throughout the film and that stream of consciousness is captured and ever present. The excellence of the set build made it possible to tell the story of a relationship in fast forward, with Sydney being shared with the world on screen as it plays host as the location. You see New Year's Eve fireworks over the Harbour bridge, and Bronte Beach features heavily as a beautiful place to be, with visits to Waverley Cemetery, a heritage-listed cemetery on top of the cliffs at Bronte in the eastern suburbs of Sydney.
From inception to delivery, it's a Josh Lawson film with his vision for the movie as a whole, ever present. He had a clear focus on every moment that's on screen and has brought a laser-beam focus to every moment. There are many laugh out loud moments that are so precious because the jokes are not contrived, but rooted in playing the truth of the situation. This is a film all Australians can be proud of and a very good Australian film it is. If it went to 11, I'd give it an 11 out of 10.
The message from writer/director Josh Lawson is a simple one, and timely considering what the world is going through at this moment in time. Don't waste time! It's all we've got, and it's running out! Make the most of every moment and don't wait to do anything. We've all heard it a million times before. Don't put off until tomorrow, what you can do today. That's really the message of the film. Live a full life and fill it with love and good people, because you never know how long you've got! Don't procrastinate. Get to this film! You won't be sorry, but you will be, if you don't.