REVIEW: ‘Hearth’ is a Short-Film that Makes Every Second Count

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Written and directed by Quebec native, Sophia B. Jacques, Hearth (original title Foyer) is an independent Canadian short film starring Marilyn Castonguay, Marianne Farley, Joel Marin and Guy Richer. After renting her home to a couple, Emilie returns having no idea what they did and what they plan to do.

Over the last 10 years, homeowners have become more open to renting their homes out to complete strangers, often as a source of extra income, in exchange for providing cost effective accommodations for travelers from all over the world. While there are definite advantages to sharing your home with people you’ve never met, Hearth  is a film that will make you think twice about doing this.

The film follows Emilie (Castonguay) as she takes a walk through her house, she reads the letter of appreciation sent to her via the booking app, smiles in gratitude at the bottle of wine left as a gift on the kitchen counter, and is obviously impressed with the pristine condition her home as been left in. As we see her prepare a bubble bath, the scene switches back and forth with images of the couple Alice (Farley) and her partner Tom (Marin) making themselves comfortable in their temporary home.

What at first appears to be a romantic get away for a couple looking for a new partner to join them, slowly turns into something much more sinister. With seamless editing by Richard Comeau, camera work and cinematography by Jean-Philippe Bernier, viewers become part of the story, rater than feeling like spectators looking on. Even though Hearth has a relatively short run-time of 5 minutes, each second is made to count.

As the time ticks by more of who Tom and Alice are as a couple and their true intentions are revealed, and you become more concerned for Emilie, because she has no idea that the home she sees as a sanctuary has been forever tainted.

As the audience, we watch helpless and filled with apprehension, as Emilie becomes an example of the old adage that ignorance is bliss. Hearth is a tension inducing psychological thriller that fills us with dread of the unknown, and forces us to consider the consequences of allowing strangers into the most sacred space we in habit, our homes.

Hearth has shown at various film festivals including the 2019 Vancouver International Women in Film Festival, Talent tout court | Clermont-Ferrand, 2019 and the Cleveland International Film Festival, 2019. It is distrubuted by H264 Distribution, and was produced by Sophie Ricard-Harvey et Charlotte Beaudoin-Poisson (Ô Films).