Karen (Nora-Jane Noone), a young single mother in border town Newry, is numbed by routine and her mundane existence as a supermarket shelf stacker. Amusement arcade slot machines have become her secret thrill and addiction. Her eight-year-old daughter Laura (Tina Maxwell) dreams of Christmas presents and sunny exotic family holidays, adding further pressure to Karen’s struggle to cope. As Karen’s close relationships begin to fracture, her decisions become more irrational. With Christmas looming, a desperate hope for a big win sees her life spiral out of control.
Cathy Brady has mastered the art of the short film form. Small Change, like her other films, captures a fully realised character in crisis, and positions her within a wholly convincing, humdrum world. Brady’s collaboration with Nora-Jane Noone continues in her debut feature Wildfire.
IFI recommendation: 10+