Leoni Horton looks at Julian Doan’s Short Film Raspberry
Grief is one of those completely singular yet entirely universal experiences that each of us will come head to head with at some point in our lives. There are the traditional forms of expressing grief – crying, mourning, stress-eating, depressive episodes – but until you’ve experienced a significant form of loss, there’s no telling what absurd actions you will make in order to cope with the profound finality that is the death of a loved one.
With his short film Raspberry, Julian Doan follows a young man (Raymond Lee) as he says his final goodbye to his deceased Father. Throughout the film’s seven-minute runtime, we journey through a plethora of emotion – although perhaps not the emotions you’d expect to run into in a film about death. Cringe-inducing awkwardness and traditional humour exist in fine balance with the more recognisable feelings of agony and loss, lending the film a lived-in and authentic edge. We move through the paces of life after loss, encountering the otherworldly realm of those who must go on living. Doan builds upon this unusual space until we reach a surprising crescendo that reaches through the realm of absurdity and lands an agonizing blow directly to the gut.
Raspberry delicately handles the magnitude of a final goodbye, managing to create a silly yet deeply personal and touching look at love, loss and human connection. Lead actor Raymond Lee is a talent to behold; he delivers the full spectrum of emotion without uttering a single word, holding together an immensely impressive and tenderly crafted tale as his character crumbles apart.
There might be no right way to express grief, but there is certainly a right way to make an awe-inspiring short film.
You can watch Julian Doan’s Raspberry as part of the Long Distance Film Festival’s Future program on May 30th 2021, at 8 PM EST.