No Place

By Laura Kavanagh | Drama
A mother and her kids are about to be homeless. So she commits an unexpected act.

Angela and her two kids have been recently been evicted from their family home and now find themselves crammed into a rented room. But even keeping that is a struggle, as is trying to maintain a semblance of normality.

Not having a proper home takes its toll, however, and without any help, Angela finds herself in an increasingly desperate situation. She is forced to take an uncharacteristic action in order to hold onto to her family -- but in doing so, she places her and her family's future in jeopardy.

Writer-director Laura Kavanagh's sensitive, powerful drama takes us inside the downward slope of homelessness. Not the stage of living in the streets or on a box, but the hardscrabble and hopeful stages before, where people attempt to maintain a semblance of security, even as the foundation of their lives are pulled away.

Though the short is fiction, with a focused and disciplined script that stays focused on Angela's attempt to keep her family safe and secure, it has the intimacy and sense of verisimilitude of a documentary. The gritty, muted naturalism of the visuals and the handheld camerawork contribute to this sense of an inside look of this small family's struggles, as does the attention to detail, such as common household supplies stored away haphazardly because there's no kitchen to properly prepare a meal in or no place for the children to play.

Crammed into this space, Angela faces an unbelievable amount of stress trying to keep their family life together. Lead actor Michelle McMahon's excellent multi-layered performance captures the sense of a woman fraying at the edges, yet trying to keep a strong, positive face for her children. Her love for her children and her intense distress than any sense of home is rapidly slipping away drive her to commit an uncharacteristic yet desperate act -- only to find herself on yet another terrifying precipice, facing an even more unfathomable abyss.

"No Place" captures the plight of what's often called "hidden homelessness," where individuals and families find provisional or temporary housing solutions. Squatting, staying in shelters or hotels, sleeping in cars: these are the types of homelessness that are invisible to the surface of everyday life, and often don't seek traditional help or services and are therefore uncounted among statistics about homelessness.

Yet "No Place" takes us inside this invisible situation and incisively captures the toll that this situation can take, putting stress on people to such an extent that it jeopardizes other aspects of their lives. Often no help exists for this segment of the homeless population, especially because many of the hidden homeless appear to have jobs, families and schedules like everyone else. Yet despite their normal appearance, it is still all too easy to slide into a more perilous situation -- and into the cracks of society altogether.

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