After losing her husband in a shooting, Anna finds herself lost in a sea of past memories of the loss. In order to deal with her pain, Anna begins an annual ritual to help her get revenge on the people behind the shooting.
“The Fifth of November” delivers a strong, consistent visual presentation. The quality of the film and the camera work shows an understanding of creating visuals to coincide with the script. In particular, making good use of more dramatic shots when the protagonist is dealing with internal struggle. However, the production does contain one major fault which greatly drags down the visual presentation. Within the short film, there are a few shots of news footage in the background. These images are noticeably superimposed in post production and become a distracting eyesore whenever they are utilized. This oversight seems like it could have been easily fixed by either completing the news footage first and have it playing on a screen or just get rid of the visuals all together, as most audiences will be able to fill in the gaps that it is news coverage without the visual aid.
Quraat Ann Kadawani, who also co-wrote the short film, does an admirable job of conveying a woman grieving from the loss of her partner. In dealing with the subject of PTSD, the actual dialogue feels a bit clumsy and unnatural, but given the different ways people deal with a profound loss, it can be overlooked. Given that the film does deal with some sensitive subject matter and high emotional states, there was a possibility of a campy performance ruining the production, but thankfully Kadawani does an admirable job of showing restraint when needed.
Outside of the protagonist, the rest of the performances don’t really hold up in comparison. In particular, the male victim of the short film becomes a deplorable cartoon character. This “victim” embodies deep racist and misogynistic ideals that seem somewhat out of place within the metropolitan setting. Even considering this character within the realm of possibility, his crass and abhorrent behavior makes him nothing but a symbol of hate to tear down. This stifles the film’s message and loses a lot of the humanity it tries to portray, as the act of killing becomes meaningless beyond creating an “us vs them” mentality. This restricts its message from reaching an audience that may be inclined to rethink some of their own personal beliefs. The rest of the cast becomes rather forgettable, within a script that relies largely on cliche dialogue and simplistic stereotypes.
The narrative is where the production really starts to crumble. Thriller/horror films do exist as one of the more underrated mediums to push social commentary. However, films within this genre that do succeed in tackling larger social issues tend to take a more subversive approach, and from the opening sequence the production’s message is a heavy handed and one sided account on the issue of gun violence in America. The film, within almost every sequence, is littered with easy narrative choices that asks to be picked apart, with the overall experience of someone telling you how you should feel, instead of giving you the tools to make your own conclusion.
Unfortunately, “The Fifth of November” feels more like a self indulgent statement geared towards like-minded individuals, which ultimately, will appease an audience with a similar mindset. However, outside of that audience, it will be an isolating and frustrating experience. Although the short film may have some valid points, the way the subject matter is presented negates social message. There is still talent to be found within the short film, leading to hope that the filmmaker can help refine his message to create a broader appeal in subsequent productions.