Losing a loved one is never easy. Yet the process of going through your lost one’s mementos challenges us in our rawest state. For a widow in a small town, the choice to part with her husband’s former jacket is exceedingly difficult. In the short “Walk of Shame,” director Dane Ray shows a strong eye for visual storytelling. At the same time, actress Shannon Plumb steals the show with her excellent instincts while showing grief.

A widow drops off her husband’s army jacket at a thrift shop. However, she soon sees another man wearing the jacket around town. Unsure about her place in life, she begins to follow the man. She soon finds herself traversing new places and forcing herself out of her comfort zone.

Ray may not have set “Walk of Shame” in a unique locale, but we get plenty of pretty visuals. The changing environments, including a karaoke bar and the man’s trailer, allow the crew to explore some interesting lighting. Ray frames Plumb well, allowing her to fill the negative space around her with considered emotions. As she creates an aura of grief, the audience begins to feel her pain.

This allows emotion to seep into “Walk of Shame” at every opportunity. Perhaps the most tragic aspect of Plumb’s character is how she stares at her phone. The man who fills her screen was her person, and Plumb never lets you imagine otherwise. Yet she must find her way forward, knowing he will not be there for her. Even the action of giving away her husband’s jacket is meant as a good-faith attempt to move forward. Yet is that even possible when we lose the most important person in our lives? It’s enough of a question to fill this short with an interesting premise.

The performance from Plumb stands out as the best aspect of the short, in part because it unlocks Ray’s vision. The actress holds the emotional power of every scene and forces us to return our eyes to her whenever she’s on screen. Her subtle and emotionally effective performance makes “Walk of Shame” one of he special shorts of the festival. Keep an eye on both Ray and Plumb as the breakouts.

Check out “Walk of Shame” as part of the Short Film Program 3 at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.

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