I’ve been fortunate enough over the last couple of weeks to have gotten to watch a multitude of great short films as a part of the 2020 Amsterdam Lift-Off Film Festival (of which my latest short film has been lucky enough to be a part of), and none more impressive than Writer/Director Alexander Osman’s 14 minute Drama/Thriller short, “The Knowledge”. The Knowledge is a two man show set in 1991 on one dark night in London – a serial killer on the prowl. A game of cat and mouse regarding identity begins to develop inside a black cab between James, a businessman (played by Stephen Beckett of TV’S “The Bill”) and Ray, a cabbie (John Glynn). By the end of the night secrets and hidden agendas will come to the surface.
Everything about The Knowledge jumped out at me in its brief setup in which we’re introduced to a somewhat OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) driver relaxing in the back of a taxi, followed by an overworked businessman who gradually becomes more agitated with each passing minute. DP, Claire Pie (working on just her second short film) shines at the forefront with wonderful lighting and cinematography throughout this little mystery. The coverage is great, and everything is atmospherically back and side lit. Pie has served as an assistant in one fashion or another on films like “The Theory Of Everything” and “The Monuments Men” and many more, so she clearly knows her stuff and it shows. Highlights are the shots inside the cab and those at the building in which the climax of the film takes place in. Sam Thompson’s music is another great addition. Consisting of nice eerie tones with cleverly positioned rise and fall for maximum dramatic tension. Of course, Osman’s tight edit helps maintain the films wonderful shape as a whole.
The crux of the script is great. There’s time spent with radio commentary on the murders playing as the curiosities of the two men get the better of them in passing conversation and they attempt to extricate something more concrete from the other. Suspicions grow and you’re never quite sure as to whose telling the truths, if there are in fact any being disclosed. Beckett is superb as James (no surprise that he’s been acting for thirty years), as is evident through the ease in which he navigates the entire spectrum of emotions. The bigger surprise here is Glynn though, and kudos to Alex on the casting for the Ray character. Even without the hindsight, there’s definite complexities under the surface when it comes to the mysterious cabbie and he plays them to a T. The Knowledge goes on to hit hard with and ending that I personally found unexpected and really effective. At the end of the festival I had to vote for the film I deemed the best of the festival and it should come as no surprise that I selected this one. I’m not entirely sure on the particulars surrounding its online release, but please do stay tuned because it’s an exceptional short film out of the UK that’s well worth your time.
The Knowledge – 9.5/10