When I was asked to review a short film directed by Rose McGowan, star of ‘Charmed’ (aka everyone my age’s childhood), I, of course, jumped at the chance. Rose McGowan is better known for her performances in front of the camera (such as the aforementioned ‘Charmed’), but, in a reversal of roles, Dawn is her first stint behind it. Dawn is one of those rare films that dares to turn a cliche on its head.
To all intents and purposes, we seem to be on course for yet another tale of a young woman exploring her sexuality in a time of sexual oppression, this being the 1950s (much like Grease). Thankfully, however, there is a lot more to this film than a girl throwing away her identity and morals just for a shot at some ‘no good’ guy (here’s looking at you Sandy).
Dawn is the perfect representation of a girl of her time. She is scorned by her mother and all but ignored by her father. In true adolescent fashion, she dreams of freedom from her parental shackles and instead yearns to explore the world around her, and what better means than a boy?
It is this meeting that paves the way for the rest of the film. At this point, we now seem on course for the age old tale of ‘boy meets girl’, with a touch of teenage rebellion thrown in for good measure. However, in this twist of the common tale, our heroine seems ill fated in this atypical, submissive and “easy going” gender role.
In an attempt to make her own fate, Dawn seems to blithely follow a path of ill intent that is all but paved out for her, and McGowan’s well meaning audience can do nothing but follow.
McGowan’s direction is instrumental in the success of this film, as are her central characters. The pace of the film is extremely believable, despite the major twist in the tale, whilst the setting seamlessly transports the audience to a time where sexuality is taboo.
Dawn, played by Tarra Lynne Barr, is undoubtedly the stand out performance of this film. Her childlike naivety and her willingness to please, evoke an almost protective feeling from her audience, despite the unavoidable consequences, that seems right at her heels.
In all, this film is a triumph. It is a rarity to find a film that dares to go against the formula of genre, let alone one that manages to do it within 20 minutes. Dawn leaves its audience with a lot to think about but, probably, most importantly, it imparts a core message that will drive your inner adolescent wild. Your mother is always right.
Synopsis: Dawn (Tara Barr) is a quiet young teenager living in Kennedy era America who longs for something or someone to free her from her sheltered life. When she strikes up an innocent flirtation with the boy who works at her local gas station (Reiley McClendon), she thinks that he is perhaps the answer to her teenage dreams. Though when she invites the boy and his friends into her otherwise cloistered world, she gets a lot more than she bargained for.