No Man’s Land (2010) – By Matthew Saliba

Luke Benson (Aaron Mathias) returns home from World War I with a scar running down his body and a deeper one in his heart. The latter is a result of a tense relationship with his father, Bernhard (Daniel Martin Berkey) which only intensifies once the two are reunited. The source of this tension is Alice (Kirsty Meares), Luke’s stepmother.

The problem with a film whose plot hinges on a twist is that you can only discuss the piece so far before entering spoiler territory and with that last sentence alone, I’m afraid I may have revealed more than director Daniel Hahn would have liked me to. That being said, you should still go out of your way to check out one of the finest short films I’ve had the pleasure to review since I started writing for Rogue Cinema.

I love history and I’m particularly enamoured with war pictures. So naturally the first thing I’m drawn to when watching a period piece is attention to detail in the production design department. Usually these kinds of films require enormous budgets and access to a seemingly unlimited supply of resources. So the fact that a low-budget, indie production such as this one was able to pull off what has traditionally been known as a "Hollywood genre" is nothing short of impressive.

The cinematography is also quite stunning with Alex Chinnici pulling off some impressive-looking dolly shots and equally gorgeous lighting, particularly the night exteriors.

Performances are stellar with Daniel Martin Berkey (Bernhard) being a real standout. Aaron Marthias, who looks like a dead ringer for Jim Sturgess is also quite good as Luke.

While the aforementioned twist is somewhat predictable (as is the ending), it shouldn’t deter you from watching another fine example of how far independent film has come in being able to replicate the gloss of a Hollywood production without the cultural pandering of the Hollywood system.

The film is available to view online at: http://vimeo.com/17194159