Dusty may be one of the most interesting and unique explorations of grief ever made – Short Film Review

Everyone grieves in different ways. Dustin’s (Travis Jeffery, also writer of Dusty) grieving process just happens to be a one-man party fuelled by booze, a few bags of coke, and Paul Kelly’s ‘Dumb Things’ blasting on repeat. In any other context, that may seem like a good time, but for Dustin, it’s a slow, self-destructive descent into an emotional pit he can’t seem to climb out of.

Dustin’s substance induced daze leads him to accidentally knock over his recently deceased best friend’s, Ashleigh (Shannon Ryan), urn, spilling her ashes into a freshly laid line of cocaine. A line of cocaine that is then snorted right up Dustin’s nose.

Despite Dustin’s disgustingly justified reaction to ingesting his best friends remains, it leads to a unique opportunity to party with Ashliegh one more time, as she reappears in Dustin’s living room every time he snorts the ashy/coke hybrid. But is Dustin’s bender going to be his true last moments with Ashleigh, or is he ready to face the pain of his loss in the scariest way possible… sober?

Dusty was written by Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes actor Travis Jeffery, who’s real life experience in losing a close friend, and the severe impact it had on him, served as the inspiration behind this short film’s story.

Jeffery’s real-life experience lends to a raw authenticity in the emotional waves of the story that simultaneously hit the heart like a ton of bricks, but also shines this loving light on the power in how people choose to remember those we love, who we have lost. A high-energy (often coke fuelled) dance scene often will juxtapose a darker, but necessary, moment of self-reflection for Dustin. The short’s ability to explore and balance both elements of grief makes for a well-rounded emotional journey for the audience, as much as it is one for Dustin too.

The electric chemistry between Jeffery and Ryan adds a beautiful layer of substance to the film, as the friendship between Dustin and Ashleigh, even in the short time spent with them, feels so genuine. The inhibitions pushed to the side by the two leads to allow such moments of vulnerability between the two characters, in both a jovial and depressed sense, makes the emotional engagement for the audience feel easy and believable.

Marking his directorial debut, Jeremy Lindsay Taylor (The Dry), showcases a fantastic visual arsenal that is not only aesthetically engaging, with sweeping shots that utilise the single room location to it’s full potential and dynamic cinematography that brings to life the feeling of an ultimate high, but creates a tone and atmosphere that so accurately represents Dustin’s mindset in any given moment. It’s an emotionally visual film, that along with great editing, leaves the viewer in the emotion needed to tell the story, at the right time, for the right amount of time.

Dusty is a truly unique depiction of grief that comes from such a genuine, emotional place in Travis Jeffery’s heart, brought to life by electric performances from Jeffery and Shannon Ryan, and beautiful direction from Jeremy Lindsay Taylor.

Dusty is having its world premiere on Friday June 7 at the St. Kilda Film Festival in the Tandem Tales short film showcase. Tickets are selling quick for it’s 7pm screening at the Alex Theatre. Click here to book tickets.

Thank you to Travis Jeffery and Little Dusty Productions for access to the short film.

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Nick L'Barrow
Nick L'Barrow
Nick is a Brisbane-based film/TV reviewer. He gained his following starting with his 60 second video reviews of all the latest releases on Instagram (@nicksflicksfix), before launching a monthly podcast with Peter Gray called Monthly Movie Marathon. Nick contributes to Novastream with interviews and reviews for the latest blockbusters.

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Everyone grieves in different ways. Dustin’s (Travis Jeffery, also writer of Dusty) grieving process just happens to be a one-man party fuelled by booze, a few bags of coke, and Paul Kelly’s ‘Dumb Things’ blasting on repeat. In any other context, that may seem...Dusty may be one of the most interesting and unique explorations of grief ever made - Short Film Review