“Gardening at Night” Photo courtesy Crossroads Film Society
Friendship and loss in the face of illness and death find a poignant voice in Shayna Connelly's short narrative, "Gardening at Night."
The film follows a last, lonely day into night as Samantha, whom actress Janelle Snow plays, awaits news of her oldest friend, Anne (Suzanne Culp), who has slipped into a coma and is near death some distance away.
Samantha, who is haunted by hospital conversations, tethered to her cell phone and pricked by guilt, grief and dread, finds temporary relief in being outdoors. Digging in the dirt and tucking in blooms seem to quiet the voices and connect her to Anne across the distance. The film shows that, sometimes, a simple act may ease the fear of letting go and the ache of being left behind.
Snow's reserved performance pulls viewers in closer. A touchstone of youth in a silhouetted pair of teen friends and a mourning dove's perfectly placed coo are examples of thoughtful details that add layers to this lean production. But the final credits are what bring the story's emotional weight home to rest. "In Memory of Anne Vattendahl" shows on the screen, then viewers hear a soft voice, belonging to Anne, who goes over the things that she is grateful for—the real things that, in the end, matter, comfort and resonate.
"Gardening at Night" screens during the "'The Truth of Us' and Other Stories of Universal Experience" film block on Friday, April 7, on screen B from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.