Movie Review: “Separate We Come, Separate We Go” – Directed by Bonnie Wright and Featuring David Thewlis
In this ten-minute short film, directed by Bonnie Wright, a young girl named Thea discovers the power of her imagination with the help of a stranger she meets along the beach in her coastal town.
In the opening of the film, 10-year-old Thea comforts her depressed mother, and when she is sure her mother is on her way out of this episode of depression, she takes a walk outside. She briefly explores an old boat that has been left aground, before happening upon a man looking at rocks near an abandoned set of train tracks.
The stranger invites her to have tea at his house, which is close by. As she waits for the tea, Thea notices how messy the house is. Hiding under the mess on the coffee table is a picture of the man, his wife, and his son. While he doesn’t reveal all, the stranger indicates that he lost them both, and then asks Thea if she has brothers or sisters. When she says it is only herself and her mother, the man stands and invites her to see something. He gives her a coat to keep her warm, and the pair exit the home and head back toward the beach.
The man asks her if she could go anywhere, be anywhere, where would she be? In a very matter-of-fact answer, Thea explains that she is only here, in Dungeness, and can’t be anywhere else. The man laughs, and tries again, stirring her imagination until she says she would love to go to Paris. As seagulls fly overhead, he instructs her to tell the birds to go to Paris since they are flying in the right direction. They both run after the flying birds, shouting instructions. It is only then that we finally see the 10-year-old Thea, and not the wise-beyond-her-years Thea, who has been caring for her depressed mother. Finally, the two introduce themselves, both Thea and the stranger named Norman smiling at one another before parting ways.
The short film immediately grabs at the heartstrings as we see Thea dealing with more than any child should have to deal with and then gives the viewer a moment of joy when the little girl emerges, yelling at the birds to go to Paris. Wonderfully, over the final scene of the film, Thea reads the viewer a letter she has written to Norman, leaving us hopeful that the girl will continue to embrace and retain that child-like wonder and imagination that Norman introduced her to on the beach of Dungeness.