Caroline (2018) [Final Girls Berlin Film Festival]

“Growing Pains” Shorts Block

I haven’t seen a short yet that’s inspired so much anxiety in me and I mean that as a compliment. Co-writers/Directors Logan George and Celine Held’s “Caroline” is an all too true to life look at the perils of single motherhood and how sometimes stress can inspire sheer irresponsibility. In a world where the welfare of children has become absolute top priority, there’s very little room to slip up, anymore. “Caroline” touches on an issue that’s become ridiculously common in an age where single parenting is basically the norm.

Set during a very hot day in Texas, co-director Celine Held plays a nameless young mom straddled with three small children. Spending the day running around with them in tow, she has a very important appointment with her accountant. Spread thin, she decides to leave the children in the car with the oldest child Caroline being allowed access to the keys to turn on the air conditioner whenever it gets too hot. As mom runs off to fulfill her engagement, Caroline has trouble with the keys and it very quickly becomes stiflingly hot within the car. When two good Samaritans discover the trio of children, events quickly spiral out of control.

While the character played by Celine isn’t a bad mom per se, her decision to leave her children in the stifling heat is a stressful source of tension that successfully weighs down on the audience. Once Caroline gives up trying to put on the A.C., the concern quickly becomes the health of the children (Side note: Reportedly, the children were never in any actual danger of heat exhaustion, as they were in a well ventilated car; the dripping sweat was from a spray bottle), and we begin hoping for some kind of intervention. The situation that unfolds is filled with tension and gut wrenching sadness, especially as directors Held and George manage grab painfully realistic reactions from the trio of children in the cast.

Caroline Held is especially fantastic in the role, portraying a young girl who might have to grow up before she even reaches adolescence. The final shot is brilliantly staged, as it’s not only the aftermath of the character having to put herself in the middle of a difficult situation, but symbolizes the fact that the aftermath of their day is going to stick with her forever and signify her having to mature much too quickly. It’s a look in to a complicated and heartbreaking circumstance that amounts to a fantastic short film. If you can handle the emotional stress, I strongly recommend it.

The Final Girls Berlin Film Festival runs every year from January 31st to February 3rd.