An Open Door (2006) – By Scott Otto

 Writer and director Sean J.S. Jourdan shows a subtle, accomplished hand in this 19 minute short film that brings us into the lives of Michelle Watson and her husband William. I can’t go into detail without giving too much away, and to give too much away would be a crime. Forget any plot outline you might read on internet film sites or even the DVD insert booklet (which is absolutely not what happens in the film- perhaps this is deliberate?). Get thee to a film festival, see An Open Door any way you can, and play witness to a plot twist that is both heartbreaking and sublime.  

While by necessity mostly of the point and shoot variety of direction, Jourdan has an eye for unsettling and distinct camera views. I felt like a voyeur peeking around doorways, over stairwells, from across streets, and down hallways. The mood is bleak and fragile; things could shatter at any time. The script gives us the illusion that we are in for a straightforward glimpse into a troubled marriage and suddenly veers off into dark territory indeed.

The actors are up to the challenge. Tim Cunningham inhabits William’s skin, stoic and at the same time unsure, afraid, as he falls prey to his wife’s illness. Suzanne Lang is a revelation as Michelle, her inner turmoil spilling out in a variety of emotions, sometimes in one shot. Her eyes and her face are always expressive…sudden laughter, constant tears, denial, regret: hers is a truly great performance. Brief supporting performances by Heidi Klefstad and Stacie Doublin are affecting as well. Jourdan has a deft touch with his actors, letting them run with his material, as well allowing them to make it their own.

The other tech credits are top notch. Kuba Zelazek’s cinematography conveys the feelings of helplessness and loss; Carmen Navis’s production design and Willis P. Jenkins’s score compliment these feelings effortlessly. The editing is seamless.

An Open Door does not pretend to have any answers. It offers a quick peek into the lives of two troubled people- real people with real pain. It is honest, touching, and sad. Sean Jourdan is a talent to look out for, and this short film is an excellent place to start. You can check out his website at http://www.seanjsjourdan.com for more information on his other works as well as current festival dates.