One of the central tenets of film acting is “Less is more.” In DANNI, a short film written by and starring Jeana Reilly, less is much more. As the title role in the riveting 24-minute film, Reilly delivers a skillfully restrained performance that speaks great emotional volumes.
A BEST ACTRESS WINNER (Jeana Reilly) at the recent Hell’s Kitchen NYC Festival – and the more than 20 film festivals it has played – DANNI tells the story of a woman dealing with relationship addiction and struggling to break free from the psychological shackles of an abusive past relationship.
Addictions consume us, isolate us, immobilize us, and block out the good in life – and we see all of that in quiet but devastating detail in DANNI. As the film begins, she is late for her waitressing job at a diner, having overslept while watching old home movies depicting a carefree childhood summer at the beach.
There are are angels among her, but she is unable to truly connect with them. There’s Mike (Don Draxler), the handsome sheriff who is clearly sweet on her. “Just busy,” she says softly when he asks why she hasn’t been returning his calls. There’s Missy (Brenda Crawley), the compassionate co-worker who covers for Danni when she’s late and urges her to take care of herself.
And since this is a film about psychological turmoil, there’s a demon: John (John Moran), the man from her past, and for Danni, the terror is real.
The beautifully executed short, sensitively directed by Peter Jensen, simmers quietly and intensely, then builds to a searing climax that stayed with this reviewer for days. Even as I write this, I find myself wanting to spend more time in Danni’s haunting, heartbreaking world, and hope that someday we’ll see a feature-length version of the film where our courageous but troubled heroine is rewarded with the happy ending she so richly deserves.