Tells a lot with a little and the performances make it work
In the last few months I have been watching a lot of short films thanks to some very good sites. One of the things with watching such films is that you get used to not seeing too many famous faces and maybe nobody you recognize apart from the odd one here or there, or perhaps a face that you know from other shorts. There is not a problem with this as it does mean you don't carry anything with you into their performance, but the opposite situation can be a problem. So with Epithet we have the situation where someone of Patrick Stewart's stature is involved and it does make you instantly sit up and take notice whereas maybe if he wasn't the short might need to do more to get the same reaction.
Anyway, I was conscious of this while watching this short but actually as a very short and punchy film, it does enough to get over this. In terms of plot Epithet is quite focused but effective at informing. The reason for the title will become clear by the end, but in the meantime we have two scenes, one where a man is trying to woo a much younger woman, and this is intercut with an earlier scene where the same man is with a friend in a pub talking in a much less delicate way when he witnesses something happen. As a narrative it is important to say that while it does draw you in, it doesn't really have a strong payoff if you are looking for a neat ending. Instead what it does is engage you in the main character and tell you a lot about the type of person he is and the life he leads.
Of course the very short nature of it means that you are left a bit shaken and by the events and the suddenness of the ending and it does feel like a few more minutes on the runtime could have been well used. It is well written though as a standalone character piece and the dialogue draws you into a comically dark conclusion. Stewart is excellent as ever – such presence and delivery and he uses it well in both scenes. Marsh and Edwards work well with him in both, while McCabe makes for quite the short impact.
It isn't an amazing film for those looking for a strong story but as a short focused look at a character it is nicely done with good performances and dialogue to draw you in which then leads to a suddenly and comic ending. You'll want to watch it again.