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Review: The Voorman Problem

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It is testament to Martin Freeman’s temperament that in an era when he is dominating both our small screen (Sherlock) and large (The Hobbit) he would consider making a low-profile short film.

But Freeman’s magic touch has again worked as the short in question – The Voorman Problem – has been short-listed for an Oscar at the 2014 Academy Awards.

The word ‘Short’ is very applicable here as The Voorman Problem is but 13 minutes in total duration. While full-length movies are competing to exceed the three hour benchmark, personally I do not equate the length of the average Hamlet adaptation as something to be emulated – three hour pictures are to be endured more than enjoyed.

However, with The Voorman Problem, I desperately wanted it to be longer. Many of its Oscars competitors are twice its length. That being said, recent Royal Television Award Society winner Mark Gill has written and directed a tight and thought-provoking picture.

Enough about the length, what about the plot? It’s also difficult to say too much about any short without giving things away. In brief, Freeman stars as a suave psychiatrist who is summoned to a nearby prison by its exasperated Governor (Simon Griffiths) to evaluate and help an inmate called Mr Voorman. Voorman –Tom Hollander very much enjoying himself – believes himself to be God and has managed to acquire a prison following. The discussions between the immaculately dressed Freeman and the straitjacketed Voorman show how power and control can still be exerted in the most limiting of circumstances.

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The film also talks about a war in the East where psychologists are desperately needed. Little conceits like this show that The Voorman Problem could and should be expanded into a full-scale movie, a blend of Coriolanus, The Matrix and a touch of Bruce Almighty.

All in all, The Voorman Problem was fun and it left me thinking. Pretty good for 13 minutes. But don’t take my word for it – download it from iTunes at this link for the princely sum of £1.99.The film also has an official site worth checking out, and you can find out more about all of the Oscar-nominated shorts by clicking here.

Kevin Spacey allegedly turned down Gill’s offer of a part in The Voorman Problem, but if Gill continues making work like this I reckon Spacey wouldn’t decline a second time.

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