Telling a good story in 10 minutes takes a lot of work, but Faulty Roots delivers an important message in its short runtime.
This short follows Lola (Ella Greenwood) and Zack (Sani Thabo) as they develop an unexpected friendship. Lola struggles with depression and Zack has a genetic disease that he reveals is “currently incurable”.
Despite being pressured to hang out with each other over the summer in an effort to “cheer each other up”, the two eventually start to enjoy each other’s company and find themselves playing games, watching films, and opening up to each other.
As well as acting as Lola, Ella Greenwood wrote, directed and produced Faulty Roots and has very clearly given this project her all. I was particularly impressed by the pacing, and how she was able to show a growing friendship through use of a sweet montage.
I was even more impressed when I found out that Greenwood is 18 years old, and this is her first film. She worked on the project after finishing her A-Levels, and has created a film she should truly be proud of.
It’s easy for the audience to smile at the growing bond between Lola and Zack. It’s like you’re watching a real, developing friendship from afar. Both Greenwood and Thabo have a natural, relaxed acting style that really draws you in.
Faulty Roots aims to raise awareness of teenage depression, and does so in a way that’s considered, respectful and very poignant. The film shows how depression can impact small things in your life, and that it doesn’t define you.
It also carefully examines how depression can affect your relationships. As well as her friendship with Zack, we also get insight into Lola’s familial relationship with her mother Susan (Sarah Eastwood).
Although Susan seems to mean well, I got the impression she didn’t fully understand Lola’s mental health struggles as she suggests she’s “moping” at one point. It was nice to see a film which highlighted this respectfully, without needing excess drama on top of it.
Faulty Roots is an emotional rollercoaster, with the characters managing to make me laugh and cry and equal measure. It’s an incredibly honest portrait of both physical and mental health, and how your brain can react to both of these.
Lola and Zack’s storylines also highlight that mental and physical health is equally as important, and that people can struggle in so many ways. Not all of these are immediately visible too.
Even though I was able to predict what route the film would take, I was still left reeling when it happened. The film takes us on a journey, and its destination is bittersweet but I was glad I got to experience it.
The script, along with Gaby Ambler’s music, tells the story perfectly and I can see this resonating with audiences everywhere. It’s a universal story that highlights the importance of compassion.
I would highly recommend Faulty Roots for those interested in mental health, or those who like heartfelt dramas. It ticks all the right boxes and is truly a special film.
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