“Margo Lily“, a 2012 short film by Dane Clark and Linsey Stewart, is a tender look at loss and the emotional uncertainty that fills the soul in its aftermath. Rob and Danielle, a young couple who had suffered a recent devastation, are gathered in their backyard to plant a symbolic tree. The weather, however, seems to deny them this right, and tensions flare as they decide on what to do.
In the vein of Rabbit Hole, “Margo Lily” explores the concept of grief and how it differs from one individual to another: can someone grieve more? Is there a “right” amount of grief, and does the amount of grief expressed indicate the amount experienced? Directors Clark and Stewart guide this power play through a subtle movement of space and separation, allowing actors Aaron Poole and Rachel Wilson a blank canvas to emote the necessary mixture of interpersonal and introspective friction.
Carried over a dismal backdrop of fallen leaves and barren trees, the complete landscape is a vision of desolation and vacancy, except for the remnants of holiday, a few strings of Christmas lights which persist; it is as much an internal space as it is a physical place of rest for the deceased, the lights emblematic of happier times and a false optimism that pervades the planting of the tree.
As the film winds down to a conciliation of the couple’s differences, uniting their shared sense of survival, it remarks on the sheer sacramental quality of the allusive act, where the symbol is first and foremost a therapeutic gesture which proffers an emotional closure to the anguished, only to be observed later as a physical reminder of a painful past. This curative action bonds the dispossessed and alleviates their isolated sadness, allowing for a mutual elevation of a redemptive spirit.