The Muse – Review


The Muse is a deeply mesmeric venture into film for fashion photographer Tim, as he seamlessly blends the concept of the muse and the mythology of mermaids with a little help from the intriguing Ben Whishaw along the way.

This short film is sparsely dotted with a poetic narration from Ben Whishaw who recounts how he scoured the oceans for the object of his affections. The plot is loosely based around mermaid legend and plays with the idea of a mermaid growing legs and leaving her captor behind. Whishaw plays the role of Edward Dunstan perfectly as he looks hypnotised with the trappings of a past life, pressing his face up against a Houdini-esque water chamber where his muse was once encased. He obsessively rakes through old 8mm films of the creature with its long tailed fin sending him into a trance like state, as he slowly succumbs to his own self-pity.


Walker’s inspiration came from a fashion shoot where his real life muse Kristen McMenamy, who also stars as the mermaid, felt the character was so strong that it translated well onto film and they liked playing with the idea of the obsessed and the muse. Thematically this short shares similar concepts to 2009’s feature Ondine by Neil Jordan as a man is driven mad by where the line is drawn between mythology and reality. In this case Edward Dunstan pays the ultimate price haunted by Tim Walker’s vivid portrait of the mermaid. The photographer’s foray into short film certainly leaves a lasting impression as he artistically captures the poetic nature of this script in the cruel and cold Northumberland countryside contrasted sharply with the images of Edward’s crumbling estate.


This captivating short is an examination of the relationship between an artist and his muse. The concept of a muse is that obsession and infatuation is lorded upon them by another, it is not a reciprocal relationship. But Edward is too entranced by the creature so much so that he feels incomplete without it and this is what drives him to madness.

Overall there are some beautifully shot scenes here, although there could have been a bit more depth and mystery to this short it does have a resounding hymn-like quality to it that lingers in the memory. Ben Whishaw’s performance lifts the whole piece as he plays the tortured artist with a haunting vacancy, which suits the overall tone. At 13 minutes long this is well worth a watch for fans and art house cinemagoers alike.

The Muse and behind-the-scenes bundle is available now, exclusively at

By Will Harper


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