Brady Hood’s realist NFTS short film, Sweet Maddie Stone, proves the electrifying force of the realist genre. The story is simple, but its protagonist is not; Jessica Barden’s eponymous Maddie Stone, a forthright 15 year-old, rules her school. Using an aggressive front in order to distance herself from her peers, Maddie ensures the students of her school never know who she really is. Yet, while her classmates may not get to understand her, Sweet Maddie Stone’s director allows audiences to see behind her many layers.
After finding out her father has been arrested, Maddie takes the responsibility to gain enough money in order to bail him out and thus protect the legacy of the Stone name. She attempts to raise this money by using her status as a “confectionary tycoon,” a title that was earned by her ability to sell sweets on the playground for profit.
Shot in a classic 4:3 aspect ratio, the modern drama feels tied to its realist predecessors, while cementing the feeling entrapment in Maddie Stone’s world. The closeness of the framing and atmosphere of the school is further exemplified from the rather fitting real-life location of Maddie’s school: a prison. Hood ensures audiences are fully immersed in Maddie’s world; this results in a film that doesn’t plead with the audience to feel empathy for its protagonist, but instead presents the unapologetic and uncompromising Maddie as she is.
From Tim Morrish’s score often sounding like heartbeats – most likely Maddie’s – to Meredith Mantik’s sharp editing that reflects the wit of Maddie herself, it’s clear that Sweet Maddie Stone is a fully realised film. Hood’s ideas are carefully controlled, and are contained within the protagonist as the director explores them. And, like Maddie, this short film clearly knows what it is and what it wants to do.
Sweet Maddie Stone is available to watch via Nowness.
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CAST: Jessica Barden, Harriet Cains, Jason Flemyng, Keeley Forsyth, Barney Harris, Zak Sutcliffe
DIRECTOR: Brady Hood
WRITERS: Jessica Jackson, Brady Hood
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Daniel Atherton
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Declan O’Brien
MUSIC: Tim Morrish
EDITOR: Meredith Mantik
SYNOPSIS: A 15 year-old tries to raise enough money for her father’s bail by selling sweets on her school playground.