The Bridge is a student film which follows the life of Lynn (Stephanie Rendall), a young woman from a troubled background as she is confronted with a personal tragedy and the new responsibilities which come with it. In a world of drug dealing, violence and mistrust, she must tackle the question: is it ever possible to escape?
The Bridge is a film directed, filmed, produced and acted by predominately University of Birmingham students. For this reason, I initially found myself distracted by the people and places I recognised on screen. However, within a few minutes of the film, I had forgotten this and was engrossed by the storyline. That said, I was impressed at how Joski-Jethi used familiar places – especially in Selly Oak, the student village of the university – in her filming and transformed them into a deprived part of London: her setting for the film. Although there were occasional issues with sound when scenes were set outside, these rarely detracted from the quality of the film itself. It is clear also that these were impressively minimal given the resources available to the production team and the difficulties typically faced by filming outside.
As a film which deals with gritty and real-life subject matter, there was always the danger of it straying into the realm of soap opera. This was avoided within The Bridge. Joski-Jethi’s stunning camera work and the brief incorporation of dance sequences into the storyline kept the film elevated and in the realm of art, not soap opera. Credit must also go to the quality of the acting from the cast who maintained their professionalism throughout the film and to the soundtrack. From the opening sequence of the film, Nick Charlesworth’s music created the perfect level of suspense which was sustained for the duration of The Bridge. The soundtrack contributed significantly to my forgetting it was a student film – made with a limited budget – and becoming engrossed in the storyline.
There was some admirable camera work within the film, my favourite being the shots of the bridge itself. Although the symbolism was never too overt, the sense of entrapment and the longing for escapism associated with the bridge by Lynn was presented effectively. Another strong feature of The Bridge was the relationship between Lynn and Ricky (Ben Norris) her childhood friend. The gradual unfolding of their relationship felt completely genuine – in contrast to many Hollywood on screen relationships – and was a joy to watch. Although the quality of acting was consistently strong within the cast, a special mention must go to Terry (Jack J. Fairley). His portrayal of the brutality which drugs and too much power can bring was disturbing and powerful and produced a physical reaction from me whenever he appeared on screen.
Overall, The Bridge is a stellar example of student filmmaking at its best. Cassiah Joski-Jethi, her production team and cast have shown that it is possible to create a professional and powerful film with a limited budget, as long as the right levels of skill, determination and passion are there. I would recommend this film to anyone, but to those interested in writing for the screen in particular; I think you’ll find it inspiring.