Shine is a moving short film that looks at loss, and how people deal with grief. It centres on a teenager who has lost her dad, and feels lost without him. Through her memories we see that he was her motivation and driving force, and without him she has given up running. In grief many people ‘give up’ on living life, as they can’t see a life without the person they’ve lost. Sometimes they see getting on with their lives as a betrayal to those they’ve lost, almost like if they stop grieving then they’ll forget them. Hallucinations are one way that grief can keep people ‘alive’ for you. And this was one of the main symptoms that Shine focused on when exploring Rheanne’s grief.
Hallucinations are not unusual as people try to keep their loved ones alive by seeing and talking to them. Rheanne’s bullies called her a freak, and this has more to do with them not understanding and not knowing how to deal with her hallucinations. Hallucinations are not an indication of psychological concerns, but more of a case of not being able to accept emotionally that our loved ones are no longer with us. There is a difference between ‘knowing’ they are no longer with us and ‘accepting’ that they are no longer with us. For some people it can take years to accept that their loved one is gone.
It’s obvious that Rheanne finds comfort in revisiting the past, as she sees and talks to her dad, as she wears his medal and watches a video of him. She knows that her dad is no longer alive, but talking to him keeps that pain of loss at bay. She doesn’t seem ready to say goodbye to him.
It was her being bullied and then coming home to find her mum not there on her birthday that emphasised how lonely she was. This film not only focuses on Rheanne’s journey of grief, but her mum’s too, whose lost her partner. We can see that Rheanne doesn’t want to be alone, but her mum is too busy working to be there for her.
The main emotion explored with her mum in this film was anger. Anger at being left alone to support both her and her daughter. Anger that her husband didn’t ‘fight’ to live, anger that he stopped his treatment. She’s angry that her daughter still idolises her dad. Despite him leaving them. She blames him for ‘quitting’. Underneath that anger there also appears to be fear, fear of not being able to cope. So rather than trying to work through the grief together with her daughter, she pushes Rheanne away and does the only thing she has control over – which is work. She can control that, so that is what she focuses on. It’s almost like she doesn’t want to see Rheanne’s grief because she can’t make it better, so she chooses not to acknowledge it. People bury themselves for years in routine, because acknowledging how much they have lost is just too painful.
Rhianne realised that if she truly wanted to carry on her dad’s legacy, then she will need to fight for herself, and outrun him. He says to her, ‘you can’t live your life with me in front of you,’ and that sits true with many losses that we all suffer, if we only look to the past, and keep our past in the present with us, then we won’t be able to move ahead of it. We won’t be able to move through the grief… by keeping him in front of her, she was sitting with the grief and letting it take over her life. It took courage for her to run that race, and that’s a reflection of real life – it takes courage for us to keep moving forward after suffering a tragic loss.
Rheanne lost her fathers medal to the bullies at the start of the film. The film focuses on rheannes journey on getting the medal back, by beating the main bully at a race, in that race she also out runs the ghost of her father. This film not only focuses on the loss and the grief but also on hope. In this film hope is symbolised by the medal. It’s taken away in the beginning by the bullies and it’s returned to her mum after Rheanne wins it back.
Hope plays a massive role in this short film. It brings Rheanne and her mum together at the end of the film, where her mum realises that she doesn’t necessarily have to do it all alone. That it is ok to be vulnerable, and it is ok not to be able to cope all the time.
Grief is a journey, and we all travel that road at different paces. Eventually, with support from our friends and family, and even sometimes with the help of a therapist we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We see there is hope and life after the death of a loved one. This doesn’t mean we will forget them, far from it, their memories will stay with us for as long as we are alive. But we don’t have to stop living as a memorial to them.