‘Guard’ is directed by Jonathan Harden and is about a closed off boxer, who is wrestling with ghosts from her past. Her past returns when her father is released from prison and is under her supervision. As she continues to practice, now with the unwarranted help from her father (who at one point was a boxer himself) the boxer will have to decide whether or not she can put the past behind her to move on, or if the hope of a renewed relationship this father desperately wants, is a useless venture that will only push himself away from his daughter. In this dramatic short, we look into the life of a very broken family, and how to move on from the hardships in life that seem unmountable.
The story of ‘Guard’ is not meant to be an easy watch, and doesn’t pull punches when it comes to showing raw moments that are uncomfortable to watch. It thrives in its ambiguity of what happened to this family who seems to have been pulled apart at the semes. I love films that don’t spoon feed the audience, but treats them with the respect that they will be able to understand for themselves. If your someone that loves a film that let you examine and explore its themes than this is for you, I myself was left for a good half hour after the short pondering its message, and interpreting what I believe it means. That style of filmmaking is very hard to accomplish and this short does it brilliantly well.
The performances by both the boxer and her father are great. I was immediately engaged in their relationship and wanted to explore even more than what the 15 minutes were able to show me. The boxer is shut off from people in general, only going outside to practice. The father is broken with regret about from his past, and desperate to reconnect with his daughter. You can see he doesn’t really know how to do this and when the film finally reveals what happened between these two, it not only makes sense as to why the characters act the way they do in the story, but it compels you to look into both their perspectives and challenges your own thoughts on forgiveness, and moving on from tragedy.
On a technical level, the film is shot very well. It has a grunge feel with mostly handheld camerawork, but never too shaky that it makes it hard for you to see what you’re watching. The lighting in one particular scene when the boxers father makes his first attempt at reconnecting with her is visually rich and the lighting plays a big part in that. I enjoyed how this story about a family was set in the boxing genre, I think it’s very fitting and works with the message of the film in general. I liked how you don’t get much dialogue from the boxer, really only one line but it is so powerful and ties everything together so well, that I think the risk to not have her speak until that point paid off really well.
Overall ‘Guard’ is a story of facing the impossible. It explores redemption, family, and courage to fight the obstacles that seem impossible to overcome, and that sometimes the difficult curves life throws at you may be the things that make you who you are. I would recommend to anyone who loves dramatic films with strong messages, as this one is a knockout.