A girl doesn’t know anything about her father and resents her mother for it. It’s a common source of familial tension explored in film, but it’s the pure, clear focus of the short film “The Last Hug” from Chicago Talkies Limited, and there’s a certain genuineness and moral warmth in the approach of writer/director Raza Siddiqui.
The film (which you can watch here if you’re already interested) tells the story of a young woman named Mini (Quincey Krull) who has yearned to know of her father her whole life. After witnessing how close her friend Kate is with her father in the opening scene, Mini finally confronts her mother (Jennifer Sall) demanding the truth.
What happened to Mini’s father is not some dark secret or anything unpredictable for that matter. You’ll initially start hoping for a big reveal when Mini and her mom argue back and forth over the issue in typical movie fashion, exchanging lines you’ve heard before about deserving to know and “I’ve given you everything,” but over time, as Siddiqui makes his intentions clear, the wish for some kind of shake-up dissipates.
The script is designed around the message Siddiqui wishes to communicate, the epiphany about family ties and parent-child relationships that he hopes the audience will have along with Mini. For some it might be a revelation, but for most it will be a loving reminder — a sort of rejuvenation — of the things that matter most that we so often let slip to the side.
In order to connect with Mini, a lot rides on Krull’s performance. She looks similar to indie stars Michelle Williams and Elizabeth Olsen, so that’s to her advantage, but she finds herself in a hole early as the script launches Mini into a heated conflict with her mother before we’ve gotten to know either character. Fortunately, she catches up over the rest of the film to the point that the ending is both believable and satisfying. Her numerous emotional moments work even before we’re on the same page with her, it just takes longer to really feel them until then.
Siddiqui’s directing style is clean and almost completely unobtrusive, allowing the story to stay about the characters and the values at the core of the script. Normally I’d hesitate to compare a film to a made-for-TV movie, but “The Last Hug” — despite boasting stronger and more detailed visual craftsmanship than those films — shares some of their best qualities, specifically heart.
“The Last Hug” won’t necessarily tell you something you’ve never heard, but it’s something we all need to hear, that everyone will recognize of being of value, and it says it with a certain confidence and clarity that justifies its purpose.
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