Film run-time: 15 minutes | Starring Josh Dallas, Emily Bett Rickards, Tom Cavanagh
Written and directed by Jeff Cassidy, Produced by Jeff Cassidy, Sage Brocklebank, Exec. Produced by Kristian Andresen
“Sidekick“, a 2016 short film by Jeff Cassidy, is a fantastical rendering of the mortal struggles that beset ordinary people; in relaying the hard facts of reality through story, one man is able to process the irrationality of his fate with the rationality of fable. A man tells his son a bedtime story that involves the life and death of a superhero.
In the tradition of oral histories, the father, James, passes on wisdom to his son in an allegorical format best suited for his absorption. In doing so, his storytelling effectively becomes a therapeutic tool that allows him to convey and direct his own narrative, revealing masked details of real-life battles that are aptly between living and dying.
Prefacing his tale as possibly the “greatest story of all time”, James foreshadows the progeny of his son as his greatest achievement, or his most intense shock to the system, as hinted at by the latter’s comic-book alias. Darkman’s constant reappearance in Captain Strong’s life signals an ongoing health crisis, and true to his word, “his whole world”, or the whole world of the story, revolves around only the Princess, Darkman and Shockwave, the dramatis personae of his life.
Cassidy’s use of subtext is subtly layered into the fabric of his visuals—the darkness of illness is expressed as a viscous black mucus; his son’s distrust of robots can be read as a hint that a surrogate father figure would not suffice for his upbringing. In reframing his ailment as a larger-than-life fight against oblivion, an understanding of value is reached: there is nothing more valuable than family, and the combat for it is literally electrifying.