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Review of Embers Directed by Benjamin Ross Johnson

A mother’s love is something we keep locked deep in our hearts and there they smolder like embers and light up our souls. Benjamin Ross Johnson’s short film, Embers, catches the essence of grief and talks about how it never leaves. Most days one doesn’t notice and then, out of the blue, it flares up.

Embers is the story of two sisters who deal with the death of their mother while on a camping trip. It is a deeply personal journey for the sisters on reel and also for Johnson who was dealing with the death of his ailing father during the shoot. The beauty of the emotions felt is present in every frame of the short.

Johnson was careful in capturing every small detail and he was aptly supported by the artistes and the technical team that worked with him on the film.

It would be an injustice to not begin with the child artistes – Piper Saunders and Makenna Nabholz who plays the roles of Claire and Annie respectively, in their tender age are absolute naturals in front of the camera.

Amanda Yeoman Brooke’s Laura, the mother is easy on the eyes. There is something about how Brooke smiles comforts the souls of the ones watching. The moments between the trio during the camping trip are heartwarmingly relatable.

David Burns and his cinematic aesthetics should be praised too. He wears two hats in Embers – one of a cinematographer and the other of the colorist. He impresses with his prowess as both.

Johnson’s screenplay has the right quantity of emotions needed for a good drama short and his direction is crisp. He seems like a director who is able to convey what he wants from his crew members and is also able to motivate them to deliver.

The editing of the film is nice and the transitions are smooth, a great way of telling a story in a visual medium. Dayana Capulong’s sound design is also in line with the film’s mood.

As the film ends, the daughters sit by the flowing river with their mother as they talk about everything and nothing – favorite memory of Claire and Annie. And, there is a comfort knowing that the someone so special will never be forgotten, memories so beautiful will not be washed away. The grief, and also the love, shall remain in their hearts as smoldering embers.

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