Painted Scars Review

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Genre: Drama
Year Released: 2016
Distributor: Unlicensed
Origin: Namibia
Running Time: 23 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: 13+
Related Films/Series: N/A

For Fans Of: Looking for Nelao, August the First, Troubled Water, Letters to Father Jacob

-This film is streaming on YouTube.

Fun Facts:
-Painted Scars has won three awards in it’s native Africa.

-This is the longest short film so far by director Oshoveli Shipoh.

Looks like we’re returning to the works of Namibian director Oshoveli Steve Shipoh. Some of you may remember that the first film I reviewed from that Southern African nation was Looking for Nelao which I certainly enjoyed. After watching and reviewing that modern silent film, I wanted to check out more of this director’s oeuvre of works, so I thought it would be a good idea to see what else he had to offer.

Let’s take a look at this award-winning short film.

Painted Scars is about a painter named Sharon. She’s busy painting so many canvases, but her life takes a turn when she gets a call from a friend who is quite suicidal and convinces her to quit. The next time, she gets a call from a different friend named Beatrice who is grieving because her four-year-old daughter was killed by a reckless driver, but the driver is unknown. Sharon gets a customer by the name of Archie whom she obliges painting a portrait of him. Archie is shaking more often than not and tries to have a conversation with her, but he may not be what he seems as she’s painting a picture of him.

This was a short film full of twists and turns. There are aspects I didn’t see coming which certainly surprised me. Sharon was certainly stoic in her delivery. I was almost about to pan her performance as under-acting until there was a revelation that perfectly and believably explained why she has that disposition. There were elements that I thought were just red herrings or unrelated, but they all connected in ways I didn’t even expect. Big ups to Oshoveli Shipoh for keeping the suspense up throughout the film. The visuals certainly were an improvement over Looking for Nelao (even that movie still looked good) as the dark lighting and clear images really worked. I’m not sure if Sharon’s actress or someone else did the paintings, but they all looked great and I could believe that people would pay money to get their portraits done by her. The music also accentuated the emotions that certainly become heightened as more things become revealed in this film.

Painted Scars does have some wounds in the film though. While most of the footage worked well, I noticed there was obvious mediocre CGI during the moon B-roll footage with the clouds awkwardly going through and around it. I thought a basic night shot would’ve sufficed. Some of the dialogue did get iffy for me like when Archie gets nervous and begs Sharon to mail the painting to him as he keeps saying “please”. Sure, he doesn’t repeat that word like a little kid who wants candy or a toy, but the frequency of him saying that wasn’t a good choice. While there were great plot twists, there were also some mediocre ones that I didn’t agree with. One of which involves the ending that is a huge cliffhanger. In the YouTube comments section, I noticed that Oshoveli Shipoh mentioned that a sequel would be in the works, so I hope he keeps that promise when it comes to a Painted Scars 2 should that ever happen.

This short film from Namibia was alright, but I didn’t think it was as strong as Looking for Nelao. The production quality with the live-action footage certainly isn’t anything to sneeze at and there was a legitimate element of suspense going on throughout it’s run time. However, some plot twists were better than others which did hurt the film in it’s execution. Painted Scars was a good watch despite it’s flaws. A sequel would be nice.

Adjustable Point System:

Add 1-2 points if you like suspense in your films.
Subtract 1-2 points if you can’t stand too many plot twists.

-Very good visual production
-Some plot twists worked
-Sharon’s character development

-Some plot twists didn’t work
-Mediocre moon CGI B-roll
-Questionable implications with Archie’s revelation

Final Score: 6/10 points

Content Warning: Painted Scars would be better suited for teens and up. There’s a subplot of a child dying because of a careless driver which isn’t seen, but it becomes very important later on. Suicide is a recurring element with that first phone call and when a character points a gun ant their own jaw.

-Curtis Monroe

All photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws. Painted Scars is property of Oshoveli Steve Shipoh. The screenshot is from YouTube and is property of Oshoveli Steve Shipoh.

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