Chad Hamilton tells a very simple story in his 10-minute short film that is also one of the most powerful independent shorts I have had the pleasure of watching. There is no dialogue, because the story does not need to be told in this way. Hamilton’s approach is such that words are not needed, that everything is more poignantly communicated without them.
Not Yet opens in an idyllic setting, a city park, where the viewer is introduced to the film’s two characters, a couple. The way Hamilton plays it out, they appear to be two strangers, one sick the other healthy, one comforting the other in little ways. But as the situation unfolds, it gets deeper and therein lies the film’s great and gentle tragedy. Their past is exposed in a few moments of fantasy. A brief moment of relief, before the viewer is again plunged into the reality of the situation.
The young woman is sick, dying, and resigned, while the young man attempts desperately to make her feel better. In his fantasy, they are together as they were before, happy and safe.
Read at Unsung Films: In a Time for Sleep.
In the closing moments of the film, the man glances behind him in a state of helplessness and spots an old man, sitting alone on a park bench. With this image, he is given a glimpse into his own future, an image that clashes painfully with the images we are formally exposed to of his recent past. In a way, he is forced to admit to himself what she has already accepted. The subtlety with which the story is told, unpretentious and unforced, is simultaneously beautiful and agonising.
While the film deals fairly straightforwardly with the themes of love and death, the smaller details included in the story, dreamlike and surreal, reveal unexpected layers. Each moment in Not Yet feels natural; every moment contains some valuable detail that adds enormous weight to the film as a whole. If you give a little time to really immerse yourself in a viewing, the end result is likely to be both seriously painful and surprisingly rewarding.
Watch Not Yet here: