Sometimes, life decides to surprise you when you least expect it – and more often than you’d like, the surprise is not a nice one. Laura knows this exact feeling – after feeling off, she visits numerous doctors, all of whom fail to point out the cause for concern. She is momentarily relieved when a more successful check-up ends with a diagnostic, only to find out that what she is suffering from is rather serious. Laura has Lupus, a disorder relating to the immune system, which can be kept at bay through medication but can never be fully eliminated. The diagnostic isn’t a death sentence, but it still heavily impacts her life, as well as dictating the things that she can and cannot do.
While Laura’s husband and long-time lover are very supportive at first, the spark between the two is gradually lost, and the young woman finds herself in the position of braving the illness on her own and overcoming the limitations it has imposed on her lifestyle. Fortunately, however, the story never goes for a ‘strong and independent woman who needs nobody to cope’, which seems to have cemented into quite the trope nowadays. Laura needs to channel her inner strength and demonstrate great bravery in order to stay positive and keep fighting, but while equally searching for, and finding support in others. The film concentrates on the arc relating to her amorous relationship, keeping the references to an important other in her life mostly indirect, and throwing in a new character for the closing scene. With a little more emphasis on the latter two secondary characters, the film could have perhaps conveyed a more layered message, rather than sticking close to a predictable downward spiral.
Fortunately, this is not enough to take any merit away from the film’s message. In two highly generalizable pieces of symbolism, 'Between Steps' addresses the hardship of fighting against illness. The mountain peak is a metaphor for the upward struggle, littered with moments where one considers giving up and not going all the way to the top. However, in order to reach the optimal position for the battle against the dragon – the second of the aforementioned metaphors – a significant amount of motivation and willpower is required. Whether or not Laura can go all the way remains for the viewers to discover.
All in all, 'Between Steps', is a vivid and memorable representation of a fight against an illness that has to be confronted on numerous fronts, some more expected than others. Its characters might be ridden with clichés, entire conversations can pretty much be predicted once the obvious flow of the film starts unfolding, and yet, we were not bored when the final credits rolled after around 28 minutes of runtime. For anyone experiencing a struggle in their lives – whether it is health related or not – this short film written by Laura Dolis and directed by Cezar Ghioaca should act as an injection with positivity and hope.