Hey gang, Valkor here. In life, I barely ever think about the past; instead, I'm almost always focused on the future. However, sometimes it can't be helped. And through some instances, you're forced to face your past. And that could be either good or bad. Next up on the MediaView chopping block is a short film called Toga, which deals with such an experience and how the main character deals with his situation going forward. And from the TOV Editor's award, you know it's a film worth checking out!
The main character in Toga is Ellis Martin (Shaun Rose), who initially reflects on his past before moving on to discuss his future. He's an overweight single father living a quiet life in a suburban trailer park (it's a pretty nice place). The film gives off this dark and sullen mood, where all kinds of bad are happening. But from what I can see, Ellis is doing well for himself. In addition to his job at the local thrift store, Ellis also does side work as a videographer. One job, in particular, has him returning to his old town of Saratoga, where he's given the task scout locations for a filmmaker. Ellis accepts the job despite having mixed feelings about returning there. And in the second part of the film, Ellis takes us on a journey as he visits several locations of Saratoga, sharing important information about each site and the impact it may or may not have had on his life. There's one scene I can relate to, where he gives the finger to the sign of his old high school (I HATED my high school too). Ellis continues and stops at an old playground where he attempts to get in touch with his former classmates. Later, he learns that one of them died from a heart attack. Mind you, Ellis is supposed to be in his thirties and his friend who passed is around the same age. Hearing this has made Ellis think about his life and the changes he has to make going forward.
Toga is the type of film that will make you reflect on both your present and your future. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Are you familiar with the saying, You can never go home? It's emphasized in this film as we watch Ellis visit his hometown and witness how much things changed from when he was a child to when he ultimately left. It's something I can relate. And if I can relate then that means I've grown a liking for this film. But we'll dig into that more with the TOV Breakdown. Before I move on, was the song "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)" playing near the end? I haven't heard that song since grammar school. And I must admit that it brought back some memories.
A compelling and moving hour-long journey, Toga will make you think about your past and future in addition to tugging at your heartstrings. I know it did for me, as it made me realize not only my age (I turn 50 this year) but also the things I've done in the past and what the future may hold. I can't speak much about returning to my old hometown because I still live in it. Similar to Ellis's journey, I can see changes taking place, and although some of them I approve of, others I don't. The film is very well-paced, which is a plus in my book as many indie films are short but feels like they run longer than they should. Last but not least, Shaun Rose deserves a lot of praise for his captivating portrayal of Ellis, both on screen and in the narration that pulls you into his world. Much respect! In the end, Toga is a fascinating and entertaining short film that's worth checking out!
Right now, it would seem Toga doesn't have a streaming or physical home. Maybe it will never see the light of day outside of film festivals. But wherever Toga shows up, I hope that you guys out there take the time to watch it. It's simple yet highly entertaining and worth checking out. So out of TOV 5 stars, I'm giving Toga a 4.5.