Medicine Men by Guy Malim is a short film that makes a big impact. These are my favorite types of shorts, the ones where a story is quickly and easily told in a minimalistic style, all the while tugging at the heartstrings with straightforward and emotional matter.
Set in the Old West, the film starts with a man dragging a body through the dirt streets of a town. We quickly come to find that there is an epidemic sweeping the land, a ruthless killer that decimates whole populations. Enter one doctor (Richard Neil) and one charlatan (Circus-Szalewski) both promising that they have a way to protect the townspeople from this plague and throw in a family drama with the doctor’s son (Reese Mishler) preferring the company of the charlatan to that of his father plus a battle between religion and science and you’ve got one heck of a storyline.
Quietly acted, the performers all give solid and nuanced performances. My personal favorite was Reese Mishler as Colt, the doctor’s son who is on the brink of adulthood and struggling to find his way. Mr. Mishler played his role to near perfection and his emotion was subtle yet intense.
The film was also beautifully shot in dark colors that only enhance the plot with their reminders of how hard life back then was and how little color and joy could be found at any given moment. This point was brought home by the entrance of the charlatan, who introduced colors other than shades of black, brown or white.
I highly recommend this piece of Americana and am eager to see more work by Guy Malim!
If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can visit it’s Facebook page here.