Punch packing, poignant short film, The Imaginary Girl, stars Ruth Gemmell and child actors from the Nottingham TV Workshop.
Seven year old Amy (an impressive beyond her years performance from Molly Windsor) spends her days fully immersed in her toys and imagination, playing by herself at home. She lives with her mother (Gemmell on short tempered frustrated form) as her parents have recently separated. Her father (William Tapley) visits and encourages her solo play but her mother is angered by this, holding a different views on her social development - or rather lack of. She wants her to go out and play with the other children in the neighbourhood and loses her temper both with her ex and, somewhat unforgiveably, with Amy and forces her to go outside and try and engage and make friends with children of her own age with disturbing consequences.
Writer and director Richard Porter has created an austere, chilly and thought provoking little piece whose pain is palpable. Many comments on YouTube (where the film is available to view) concern themselves with how much of a bitch Gemmell's character seems to be. Whilst I agree she's unnecessarily short and angry with her child I can't help but wonder about the reasons why. They clearly come from a worry or fear that has Amy's best interests at heart as she is obviously concerned about her development and lack of friends, but I'm also left wondering about her own sociability and status following the breakdown of her marriage - no mean feat for a ten minute feature. Maybe it's an age thing; a lot of the commentators on YT seem to be teenagers, thereby closer to Amy's age than I of course am, and bearing the scars of being told to fit in more by their own parents. The stuff between the lines here, the mother's motivation which is just hinted at is, for me, just as interesting as Amy's central story.
Imagination is key to the piece and to the character of Amy and when the film reaches its peak it is an astonishing, surprising and chillingly satisfying moment that may even, worryingly, foreshadow the girl's possibly doomed future. Porter has the courage to conclude the film in a manner that doesn't wrap everything up in a nice, neat bow or resolve Amy and her mother's problems and I personally think that is both daring and fitting, though again several commentators on YT think otherwise - perhaps they're more used to happy endings?
This engrossing short is available to view on the aforementioned YT and on the website of the film's production company here