“Tiptoe” is a short film about two siblings left on their own. Her mother left the house early and her father seem to neglect the family at all. Taiwanese director I-Ju Lin tells the drama in a dream-like manner.

Tiptoe screened at Berlin Film Festival

Uncertainty dominates the whole film. The children do not know when one of the adults will come home and they are not sure how to move on. As they leave for school, the older sister takes responsibility for her brother, picks him up and takes him for dinner. Everything seems fragile. The void, created by the absence of a responsible adult, is not filled.

The camera accompanies the two kids dealing with the situation, showing the world from their perspective. “Tiptoe” depicts the dependency between children and parents, the important social construct that gives orientation and security. In this short, I-Ju Lin shows what happens if this construct is abolished. Luckily, she puts the older sister in an emancipated position, taking lead. Otherwise, the story could have taken a bad road, leading to potential misery. That’s why “Tiptoe” appears like a short scare, that ends with a gasp of relief, but also remains a grain of salt at the same time. Are the children safe or not? This question is ultimately up to the mind of the viewer.

The atmosphere is nicely presented by a soft-focus and a harmonious setting. There is no danger from the outside and everything around the children is going a natural way. Inside this harmony, the siblings bring in their fear of being left behind. The idea reminds of Koreeda’s “Nobody Knows” (2004) and I-Ju Lin manages to put on a softened version of that harsh drama.

All in all, “Tiptoe” is a slow family drama that does not ultimately reveals its frightful potential. The missing backstory of the father, and the open outcome of the children’s fate keep the audience interested in further details.