Me & My Shadow opens with shots of a flat in the night. We see a streetlight shining somewhat ominously in the dark. We hear a clock ticking the minutes away, a reminder that time never stops.
Inside the flat, a man named Karl (played by Dean Sills, who co-wrote the film with director Steve Call) wanders about aimlessly. He’s suffered some sort of trauma, we can tell that. When he tries to sleep, he is woken up by disturbing thoughts. Whenever he tries to bring an end to his pain, he just wakes up in bed again. It takes a minute or two but we soon notice that he sleeps with a gun. We also notice that there’s a small teddy bear sitting on the nightstand next to the bed. The bear’s wearing a sweater that reads “England.” As I watched this film, I found myself focusing more and more on that bear. There’s a very sweet innocence to the sight of that teddy bear sitting there, a hint that there was once more to Karl’s life than just the angst and the depression that has overcome him now. As well, the sweater reading “England” suggests that the flat represent more than just where Karl lives and that the film is ultimately about more than just a depressed name Karl. Instead, it’s a film about people in crisis everywhere.
Karl sleeps. Karl dreams. Karl wakes up. Occasionally, the film uses animation to show Karl sitting up in bed, struggling with the bad thoughts that have invaded his mind. It’s an effective technique in that it captures what Karl himself is probably feeling at that very moment, the feeling that everything is somehow real and yet somehow false at the same time. Reoccurring and disturbing images continue to flood Karl’s mind and all the while, the clock keeps ticking. Time stops for no one, no matter how much pain they may be in.
Me & My Shadow runs only five minutes but it does a good job of capturing Karl’s desperation and the feelings that thousands of people like Karl have to deal with on a daily basis. The film was made to spread awareness about the current suicide crisis, in both the UK and the US. It’s effective because we’ve all known someone like Karl, even if we didn’t what they were going through at the time. One watches the film and hopes that Karl will eventually reach out to someone, anyone. The clock is ticking and Karl’s nights aren’t getting any easier.
This effective portrait of depression and desperation is not yet available to the public but I’d say keep an eye out for it. Watching it might help you understand the Karls in your own life.