Short Film Review: Pendulum

There seems to be one constant in this life, that all things eventually come to an end. We spend most of the time focused on the circle of life, but we are beginning to realize that the world itself might end sooner than we ever dreamed. Its because of this that several films about the world’s extinction are beginning to make their appearance. Filmmakers are wanting to explore what it really means to live in a time where there is a definitive end.

In Lauren Cooney’s new film Pendulum, that concept is split between an existence of excess and one in which you find peace in just living. In the film, Cerys (Cooney) lives the former way of life, diving into a world of gluttony and deviants. She grew up in a time where her time on Earth was limited, so the point of life seemed pointless. This is in immediate contrast to the way her best friend Gwylim (Scott Michael Wagstaff) chooses to live his life; calmly within his allotted time. Yet, when the end begins to finally take shape, Cerys wants to escape with Gwylim into a world of acceptance instead of fear.

It’s a beautifully shot film, and Cooney (who is also the writer) touches on several contradictory elements that compliment each other in this confusing time. Throughout the short we explore all the emotions one would experience in the situation of annhilation, and are with the characters as they experience revelations in the end. However, the film only touches on these elements, leaving the audience lacking.

Images provided by Pendulum Films

Images provided by Pendulum Films

I wanted more from this movie. I am intrigued by this world and the situations Cooney creates, but I feel I’ve only experienced the surface of what could be available. I would love to see this film as a feature. I believe there are so many elements that can be explored, and I am intrigued to see Cooney’s thoughts about each one of them.

The concept is brilliant, the idea that there could be a generation of people born knowing that the world will come to an end during their lifetime. It’s not only a lot of pressure to live with, but it’s also a lot of pointlessness that goes into everything you do. This plays out with the attitudes of Cerys and Gwylim. There is even an element of this conflict in their choice for pilgrimage for peace. 

The idea sparks in Cerys when she sees a report on the news about how other countries are embracing the end of live with love and excitement. There’s something about this view of death that strikes a cord with Cerys, which why she and Gwylim makes the trip. Yet the place they end up isn’t what we witnessed on the news, and I’m intrigued as to why they didn’t end up where we thought they were going to. I want to dive into the minds of these two different perspectives to find out what changed during their search for peace. The shift that happens in Pendulum is quick and I feel as if I’m trying to catch up with the world on film.

Images provided by Pendulum Films

Images provided by Pendulum Films

Others may find this contrite, but there is a whole realm of existence that can be examined in the concept of life versus death. Sure, it’s a concept that has been done before, but each exploration through a filmmaker’s eyes is unique. We all experience life differently, even if the major points are the same. It’s this fresh telling through different filmmakers that we can dive a bit deeper into ourselves. We need someone else’s perspective to awaken thoughts we didn’t even know we had. I believe Pendulum has the opportunity to do that with a feature length version of this story.

The character of Derryk (Tom Sawyer) begs for expansion as well. The complexity we see within this character in the little time he’s on screen is inspiration for a writer. With little dialogue and snippets of personality, Cooney was able to develop a well rounded intriguing character. There is definitely an interesting connect between him and Cerys, but as it stands now I feel the audience is missing out on that relationship. You aren’t sure where Derryk stands on the line of protagonist or antagonist, but I am willing to find out.

What Cooney was able to do with her short film Pendulum is beautiful. She sets up this world of intense questions and the audience is willing to take the journey with her and her characters. The problem is, the film isn’t long enough and the story doesn’t develop fully in the way it’s presented. I want to explore this world, and I hope in the future Cooney turns this into a feature. 


Written by Lisa M Mejia
Images provided by Pendulum Films