Mbwana and his best friend Juma are two young men with big dreams. These dreams become reality when they photograph a gigantic fish leaping out of the sea and their small town blossoms into a tourist hotspot as a result.
Written by Jack Thorne (THE FADES [TV]) JONAH is one of the more expensive short films ever made, requiring such a high budget that it needed a national lottery to fund it.
But it's all there on the screen as a 2 hour movie that needs only 17 minutes to tell its story. One that can best be summarized by this quote,
"Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them."
Jonah is a cautionary tale of two young men who have greatness thrust upon them, and how capable they are of handling the sudden fame and rewards.
Director Kibwe Tavares (ROBOTS OF BRIXTON) is a bright star in England among short film directors. His movies are special effects laden without being SFX driven, as there's a warm-blooded beating human heart to everything he does. He's the Yazoo of short films and while his upcoming project is also a short, I'm eager to see what he does with a feature.
Not surprising that such a tale as JONAH would appeal to producer Ivana MacKinnon (THE DESCENT, EDEN LAKE, CENTURION), after her involvement with Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire a few year's earlier. After years of toiling in the thankless work of Associate Producer, JONAH was her jewel.
What gives the sheen to JONAH is the experienced, remarkable talents of short film cinematographer Chloë Thomson.
Adam Biskupski's editing is often a blaze of rapid fire en pointe to-the-frame speed even when the movie slows. Yet I was never bombarded by the spastic strobe effect you'd expect of such a description.
Production Designer Jonathan Gales dressed the sets of this fictional Zanzibar so well I could never discern when the movie was in its shooting locales of Zanzibar or England.
In aid to all of this scenery, the crew of Jellyfish Pictures created a seamless virtuoso of an impoverished third world city waking up, as well as the iconic fish. This look of the city and its environs gave SFX artist, Paul Nicholls, a Production Designer credit as well.
On the whole, what JONAH lacks in subtlety (life is rarely subtle until the final act) it makes up for in exuberance: how life can overwhelmingly whirlwind around you faster than you can keep up.
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