Set in pre-WWII England, FAREWELL WALTZ is a beautiful and poetic piece of storytelling given to us by Writer/Director Kaine Levy. Levy pays tribute to the style of films from Hollywood’s Golden Age – with his short film about socially forbidden love.
The film opens on the eve of September 3, 1939 when Britain declares war on Germany. Old black and white footage and radio narration poignantly takes us back in time to 1939.
Somewhere in Hertfordshire, Charles (Daniel Davids), a young black immigrant farmhand, is working the land. He takes a break to cool himself down with a dirty rag dipped into a bucket of water.
Strolling by at this precise moment is the girl of his dreams – Rose. Her father is the wealthy owner of the farm. Rose sends a seductive look to Charles causing eyes – and hearts – to lock. The father whispers something in Rose’s ear – the body language suggesting a warning to his white daughter not to interact with the “help”.
Charles quickly realizes that his feelings will never be anything more than a fantasy as interracial relationships were basically forbidden during this time period. If they were acted upon, there would be severe reprucussions.
A surprising turn of events presents Charles with an opportunity to follow his heart. Rose shows up one night outside the rundown shack where Charles lives – with only a filthy mattress and table to his name. He is a true gentleman – and goes to get a blanket to cover Rose’s shoulders in the cool night air. This gesture brings them physically – and emotionally – closer to one another.
Both Davids and Wood give standout performances – as their character’s journey is all without dialogue. Yet, these actors speak volumes to the audience with just their body language and emotions.
Charles abruptly pulls away from Rose and quickly closes the door on Rose – and love.
Powerful and heartbreaking is that scene. Rose walks away feeling hurt and confused by his cold rejection – when in fact it was the ultimate act of love.
While sitting up against the door, Charles’ emotional pain and powerful restraint from going back outside after her – is palpable. The framing – along with the lighting and shadows in that moment – is breathtaking.
Charles awakens the next morning with a sense of duty and honor. Frame by frame, he steps into his military uniform – and his new life. He exits the place he’s called home with a poignant tap on the door – a goodbye to his past. Rose is there waiting to say goodbye – knowing that it will be their last time together. He pays Rose the utmost respect – yet again – by saluting her as he leaves.
Visually stunning cinematography (Natalja Safronova) with high quality sound design (Alex Gregson) and editing (Levy). The use of lighting, shadowing and the simplicity and beauty of the production design (Becka Oxland-Isles), brings the audience into their world – and their emotions. The score (Felipe Tellez) accompanied by Budapest Art Orchestra, was a character in and of itself – as it tied the character’s emotions together throughout the film – beautifully. Only every so slightly did the score seem to be a bit melodramatic in places.
In under 10 minutes, Levy’s film reminds us that this world – and society – has been putting labels on our differences – over lifetimes. Rich, poor, black or white – Levy beautifully reminds us that what connects us all as human beings – is love – and that’s the only label any of us should be wearing.