Loco

By Rory Wilson | Drama
A train driver is traumatized after an incident on the tracks.

Paul is a train driver on the railway going about his job when the unthinkable happens: his train hits someone committing suicide on the tracks.

The incident is tragic and horrible, and Paul cannot get the details, textures and trauma out of his mind. Yet he goes on with his job, despite everything, suffering silently as things go back to "the usual."

Written and directed by Rory Wilson, this short drama is an incisive, empathetic look into how issues of mental health and trauma intersect with a forgotten victim of certain tragedies.

Rendered in a gritty naturalism that captures the train driver's milieu and a sure-handed sense of pacing, the narrative weaves a psychologically intricate narrative to capture how Paul is haunted by a death he witnesses on the tracks, and how it exacts a toll on him. The outer events of the plot are straightforward, but Paul's inner landscape is anything but.

The actual suicide's details are parsed out throughout the film's duration, as flashbacks give more information and emotion with each pass. Jagged editing rhythms and vivid sound design put viewers in a visceral, immediate place. Though we don't see anything explicitly violent, we feel it in the textures and shape of the filmmaking. The approach generates a sense of dread as it becomes clear what is going to happen, and this dread haunts viewers as much as it does Paul.

The film's greatest strength is actor Andrew Schofield's performance, which makes trauma's murky, difficult internal emotions clear, precise and relatable to the audience. As the film reveals the full extent of the incident, it also reveals its impact on Paul: cowed and haunted by grief and trauma, and yet expected to soldier on as if it were just another day on the job. He is a shell of a man, and thanks to such emotionally immersive storytelling, we understand exactly just what a burden he shoulders.

Keenly observed, insightful and ultimately heartbreaking, "Loco" captures the mental strain of train operators and drivers, especially in light of recent cuts to support funding for these men and women. Yet little discussion exists about the impact of these events on the people who witness these tragedies up close. For many train drivers, these incidents linger in the memory forever, often for years in a form of PTSD that goes unaddressed. These hidden, quiet tragedies have their own devastation, and "Loco" shines a light on this silent suffering.




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