“All I can do is drive”
The eight-minute short film Cadillac, by Nathan Lewinski, is a sentimental portrait of the memory of a man who has left this earth. Beginning without dialogue, an older gentlemen turning on his Caddy while still in the garage, I thought that maybe my cynical mind was playing tricks on me. The first reaction I had to the scene was that this man was committing suicide, especially as the sequence blurs out into black for the next act to begin. Only when I read the press notes in the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival’s program was I validated, feeling that Lewinski portrayed the scene exactly as planned instead of thinking I needed to start watching some more uplifting films to shake the ever-present initial interpretations of death and depression I obviously harbor.
Cadillac then becomes the antithesis of a small plotline used in Rain Man. Whereas that Cruise and Hoffman film used a vintage car to stand-in for the love the boys felt they deserved—a machine that was shown more compassion than their father’s own flesh and blood—the car in question here is the last visage of a man our lead Bryan cannot easily forget. Once the prologue ends, Bryan Lillis’ character arrives at his father’s house, (played by Richard Derwald, Forever Young’s own Mr. Fitness—shameless plug for the paper I layout every month), entering the garage that houses the car that embodied the man’s essence as well as what killed him. Emotions run high and what is first a rough roller coaster of pain and anger towards his father’s action soon evolves into acceptance. The only thing left for Bryan is to turn the key and honor the man’s life with one more drive.
Shot well and utilizing an intriguingly composed sequence that starts in letterboxed super-widescreen, eventually adjusting to fill the theatre screen’s frame, Lewinski definitely has a good handle on making sure to only show exactly what the audience needs to see in the short timeframe on display. His use of focus and cropping in the prologue alludes to the suicide in progress and his ability to let Lillis grieve without the distraction of camera movement or unnecessary flair shows a level of restraint not always seen in this era of quick cuts and kinetic pacing. If there was one aspect that I was unsure of, it was the choice of music. However, while the Beach Boys song used seemed too obvious in its tone, I did grow to accept it as being effective and warranted. It adds to the Cadillac’s era and the use of a dreamlike reunion between father and son—giving the boy the goodbye he wasn’t allowed in reality.
Cadillac 8/10 | ★ ★ ★
Bryan Lillis in Nathan Lewinski’s Cadillac.