*Online Premiere* Bearing the weight of social obligation, Mel attends her baby shower. Directed by Mimi Jeffries, “Lily” is an exploration of gender roles and emotional suppression, a heavy drama led by a powerful lead performance by Olivia Gilliatt.
We never get a clean view of the party guests — they are shown out of focus or at the edges of the frame. The technique works to keep us in the mental state of Mel. Her husband, the rest of her family, friends, they’re all there to help, to fuss over where to place the flowers, when to open gifts. But they are all too focused on how Mel should be feeling to notice how she is feeling. The truth is, she’s a wreck. The signature scene takes place downstairs as Mel escapes to calm down and is joined by a young boy, the son of a friend. And the film, which has established an effective strategy of restraint, finally unleashes a flood of emotion.
Playing profoundly against the expectations of a would-be joyous occasion, the film is a smart dissection of the duality of Mel’s condition, symbolized with an upstairs/downstairs shift. On the surface, she’s playing her role, the ceremonial center of attention. But underneath, there’s a harsh truth she must come to terms with. (11 minutes). Written & Directed by Mimi Jeffries. Starring Olivia Gilliatt. Cinematography by Allison Anderson. Production Design by Perry Mateson. Produced & Edited by Javian Ashton Le.