In Training (Lachlan Kelly) is a tense piece utilising its 13-minute runtime to full effect. Under Kelly’s keen eye the first half of this short film explores the shared past of two characters; Malcolm (Donall C Courtney) and Seamus (Des Early).
Their relationship trails the deep divide in Irish history, with past having split when Malcolm joined the British army and Seamus became involved with Irish dissidents. The details of their relationship are sparse, mostly given through background details in the first half of the film. The information we do get mainly comes through Malcolm’s scenes, as we follow his daily life in an unnamed rural part of Ireland. The use of ambient noise in place of a soundtrack gives these scenes a certain tension and, as we learn of Seamus’ release from prison, heightens the stakes as we see him load a gun and drive out into rural Ireland.
The second half of this short is mostly taken up by the conversation had once these characters meet. The performances of both Courtney and Early are given a real chance to shine here, as Kelly lets them loose in an emotional confrontation brimming with betrayal, disappointment, and pain. The way this conversation was shot seems to draw on a similar scene between Michael Fassbender and Liam Cunningham in Hunger (Steve McQueen, 2008), where Fassbender’s Bobby Sands gives an emotional defense of his beliefs to Cunningham’s Father Moran. Kelly made no mistake in drawing upon this scene, as it is a masterclass in how to grip an audience; that is to say that In Training’s climactic confrontation accomplishes everything its first half built towards.
As a whole, In Training captures its audience by building tension throughout, playing on an emotional history between its characters as well as its nation, and exposing an unending violence.