The short film «Diagnosis» was made by a young filmmaker Tanner Craft. This student opus compares favorably with many student projects. Often novice filmmakers have mastered technical and professional skills well, but they have nothing to say. That’s why there are so many student short films with far-fetched plots and formulaic characters. «Diagnosis» tells a credible story about real characters. The most important thing is that the director really has something to say.
Strictly speaking, the subject of autism is represented very widely in cinema. In addition to the most famous film “Rain Man”, there are several dozen full – length films where autistic people are the main characters. Therefore, it is very difficult to say a new word on this topic now. However, Craft’s film does not claim to be a revelation. This film is the author’s statement of a young cinematographer about what he cares about. And this is the most important thing in modern cinema. In our time, when all the movies are already shot, new directors should make the films about important things for them, without looking back at what has already been done before.
The plot of the film is very simple and unpretentious. Single woman Tanya (Rachel Ehret) comes with her son Jack (Manny Post ) to Dr. Underwood (Carla Tenbroek). Tanya learns from the doctor that Jack has a diagnosis which is called Autism Spectrum Disorders. Strictly speaking, this is not a disease, such as schizophrenia or depression. This is a personality trait associated with difficulties in verbal communication. Tanya is in shock, but her love for son helps her get a grip, and she is looking for a way to help. The ending of the film looks optimistic and positive. Jack, of course, did not stop being autistic, but Tanya found a way to communicate with him.
Despite the simple plot, the film contains wise thoughts. Autism is not a death sentence, and it is quite possible to live a full life with it. An autistic person doesn’t owe anyone anything. This environment and society must change in order to find an approach to the autistic person.
There are no sentimental scenes in the film. The director does not try to squeeze a tear or manipulate the audience. Stylistically, the film is made in a documentary manner. Ascetic camerawork and organic acting give the impression that we are watching real life.
Rachel Ehret looks very natural as Tanya. She doesn’t have any forced emotions, although the plot may contribute to this. Her remarkable acting work keeps the film from a possible slant into pathos. We see a strong female character. Tanya is alone and she could not afford to count on someone. Despite the difficulties and overwhelming emotions, she copes with the problems and finds a reasonable way out.
The film «Diagnosis» is a beautiful student work. Despite the simple plot and ascetic style, the film is able to surprise the viewer. This is a mature work, although it was shot by an aspiring director. Tanner Craft has convincingly demonstrated his ability to work with stories and actors. The film didn’t say anything new about autism, but it is a deeply human work. The life-affirming and positive mood give us optimism and faith in our own strength.