UBC graduate Jamie Travis has brought his latest short film "The Armoire" to Image + Nation fresh off great success at the Toronto International Film Festival. After watching its brief 22 minutes you can understand why it was such a hit. The short is about repression and repressed memories – something we can all relate to. It is a film about the human condition.
Two 11-year-old boys, Aaron (William Cuddy – Amelia, Breakfast with Scot) and Tony (Ricardo Hoyos), come home after school and decide to play hide-and-seek. What starts off as an innocent child's game ends up with Aaron not being able to find Tony. He tells his parents nothing, but eventually questions are asked and it becomes clear that Tony is missing. The police are called in. The media covers the young boy's disappearance.
Aaron wants to go on as if nothing has happened, but he is hampered in that endeavour by the fact that he keeps hearing Tony's voice. When Tony's body is found the voices don't stop for Aaron. His parents are not sure what is happening, so they bring Aaron to a therapist (Maggie Huculak). Tormented by what is going on, Aaron takes to sleeping in the armoire in his bedroom.
Meticulously shot, the film is told from a child's perspective, but is at the same time visually beautiful and highly stylized. Though I presume that it's a story that happens in the present time, it has a kitschy 70s look – the clothes, the furniture, the pink bathroom- about it.
As it goes on, you get the feeling that the director is telling us his own story through the young character of Aaron. A story with a very personal feel to it. Even though it is about a young child it is quite a dark and filled with a sadness. The secrets that some young children carry with them inside in order to survive fuels the story.
Very intelligently throughout the film the sexuality and sexual awakening of the young Aaron is exposed. From subtle things like bunk beds and Aaron coming out of the armoire (or closet) to more overt scenes like him picturing his new, young male teacher naked, the short just oozes sex. Symbolic scene after symbolic scene. Aaron is confused about his burgeoning sexuality and doesn't know what to do about it.