Based on writer, director and producer Thyrone Tommy’s own experiences, Mariner tells the mesmerising tale of Nate, a young navigation cadet taking his final college exams. A moment from Nate’s childhood comes back to haunt him, taking over his everyday life as well as his crucial tests.
Filmed on location at the college where Tommy himself actually trained as a navigation cadet, Mariner manages to build a claustrophobic and almost dreamlike atmosphere in this strange psychological thriller. Nate’s overwhelming anxiety and heightened stress levels are conveyed perfectly through a pulsing, unnerving soundtrack and clinical, unnatural lighting. The fact that things are only ever partially revealed adds to the odd feeling that this 20-minute short gives off. Everything is very understated, with past happenings and experiences hinted at but never fully disclosed.
Tommy describes the editing and pace of Mariner as being “driven by the unpredictability of actually driving a ship.” There are moments of complete calm that suddenly descend into chaos, sending Nate into unrelenting panic as he is thrown into situations beyond his control. Memories of his near-drowning as a child flood into the present day, threatening to overthrow his career and his relationships with those around him.
In addition to Thyrone Tommy’s clear and uncompromising direction, lead actor Thomas Olajide is also a young talent to look out for. Backed by NBC Universal, Mariner definitely doesn’t look or feel like a low-budget short; in fact it has all the hallmarks of a short film that could easily be adapted into a full-length feature. It is stylish and unique, making 20 minutes disappear in just a blink of an eye. It’s an intriguing and beguiling story that stays with you for quite some time after it’s over.
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CAST: Thomas Olajide, Alison Louder, Rod Wilson, Alli Chung
DIRECTOR: Thyrone Tommy
WRITER: Thyrone Tommy
SYNOPSIS: A young marine navigation student suffers intense anxiety during his final exams, when an incident from his past returns to both haunt and help him.