Set in Russia in 1918, The Tsarevich tells the moving story of Prince Alexei Romanov and his battle with conscience, illness, and harsh reality during the Russian Civil War. It’s an ambitious and complicated topic for a short film to tackle, but director Geoffroy Faugérolas was apparently more than up for the challenge. In its fifteen minutes, The Tsarevich manages to both intensely capture interest and create genuine emotional investment. It’s a powerful piece of character focused filmmaking, and I’ll be watching with interest to see how it fares at upcoming film festivals.
Genre: Short, Dark Drama
Directed by: Geoffroy Faugérolas
Producers: Geoffroy Faugérolas & Alena Burova
Written by: Geoffroy Faugérolas & Marie-Ange Faugérolas
Cinematography: Jack Elliott
Music: Matt Milan (Score), Sasha Verner (Opera Singer)
Cast: Michael Fitzgerald, Mark Moses, Micah Fitzgerald, Jase Lindgren, Cristina Franco, Steve Humphreys, Zack Sayenko, Johnny Mask, Will Kleist, Ally Ioannides, Lizzie Zerebko, Arina Khoryakova, Anne Griffin
Run Time: 15 min.
Official Site: http://geoffroy-faugerolas.com/films/the-tsarevich/
Faugérolas’ direction, combined with excellent cinematography by Jack Elliott and music by Matt Milan, creates a tense, personal, and emotionally charged atmosphere that pervades the film and lends gravitas to its actors. I found myself consistently impressed by the set design and lighting, and both the camera angles and shot choices showed true artistry without ever being overdone. The music is spot on and adds genuine feeling instead of being intrusive, and Faugérolas’ passion for the topic comes through in every scene. In short, The Tsarevich is a beautiful film in which all of the pieces work together powerfully to forward its purpose and connect the audience to its characters.
The acting is no less impressive. As he did for his previous short film, Alice, Faugérolas managed to bring out the best in a young actor. Michael Fitzgerald’s performance was absolutely key to making this short work, and he pulled it off spectacularly. Playing Prince Alexei, Fitzgerald’s facial expressions and emotional, yet subtle delivery of his lines pulled me into his character and made me sympathize with the Prince’s struggle. I worried for him during tense moments and found myself deeply invested in his internal conflict. Fitzgerald definitely has a promising career ahead of him, and kudos to Faugérolas for guiding him to such a strong showing.
Also of note, though his appearance was brief, was Mark Moses (known for many TV performances including Mad Men) playing the part of deposed Emperor Nicolas II. In his few lines, he conveys both power and compassion and is absolutely convincing as an Emperor who is worried for his family and country. Utilizing him was an inspired choice and a great use of a better known actor to complement the already strong performances throughout the rest of the film. While the rest of the supporting cast doesn’t stand out as well as Fitzgerald or Moses, there are no weak performances in this film and everyone does their part to create the reality of 1918 Russia.
Faugérolas clearly has an excellent grasp of his craft, and if this is any indication, I’m extremely interested in where his career takes him. Made with passion and a keen eye, The Tsarevich is an excellent period piece punctuated by its emotional tone, impressive performances, beautiful camera work, and sharp, character-driven purpose. This is one to keep an eye on.
FINAL SCORE: 9 out of 10