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Review: The Voorman Problem


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.


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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