These three words summarise this whirling tale of romance. A friend sent me the link to this Irish live action short film this morning that earnestly attempts to get inside the mind of a child, while establishing an association between him and his teacher. The 14 minutes 57 seconds long film was released in 2010. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Live Action Short Film at the 83rd Academy Awards.
Why are we discussing this film? We are doing so, because this Michael Creagh-written and directed film is a poignant take on love, its innocence and the complexities that it brings. An eight-year-old student crushing on his teacher is as acquitted a premise as it can be. But life is not as predictably-meek as we think. And the film embraces its quandaries charmingly.
It opens inside a classroom. A woman takes a paradigm class for her fidgety-but-rapt students. She writes down three words that she wants them to spell out later. As the camera pans itself, focussing on adorably-innocent faces one by one, it stops on the protagonist – little Ardal. The boy sits resolved, lost and smitten. The class finishes and children scurry out. Ardal, however, decides to stay put. He opens his stationary pouch and takes out a stunning ring that he uncertainly (yet confidently) gifts his teacher. He tells her it is important she knows how he feels about her. She tells him she will treasure it forever, and wishes him a good weekend.
The boy walks home, elated. He asks his parents over dinner, the legal age to get married. Later, he marks the day of his wedding to Ms Purdy (his teacher), in his 10-year planner diary.
While shopping with his mother, Ardal bumps into his teacher, who tells them she got engaged. She happily introduces them to the man she is going to marry. Fizzy, arrogant and rash, the man insists they go watch a football match at home – instead of having lunch – and takes her away.
At home, Ardal sees his father hide a pistol inside the cupboard. The little boy, who had been garnering animosity towards the fiancé, tells Ms Purdy at school that he would have skipped the match for her. He sees the fiancé in the car park and confronts him. He challenges him to a duel – to the death.
The two ‘men’ meet at the school yard the following day and Ardal asks the latter to cancel the wedding. When he refuses, Ardal takes out his father’s gun from his bag. Ms Purdy arrives just in time. She pleads the lad to put the gun down. The fiancé, meanwhile, having been reduced to a mess, fears for his life. He unapologetically admits he had proposed to Ardal’s teacher because he wanted to “shut her up”. A stunned Ms Purdy stands in silence while Ardal pulls the trigger.
The film transitions from a harmless crush to obsession and pretence. It is a sugary take on feeble human relationships. The ending is arbitrarily unexpected. Watch this one to witness life to come to a full circle. Not your average Irish romance, this.