Sunday, October 18, 2015

Earth: notes about a short film

I don't review unreleased films here. However, a filmmaker acquaintance of mine got in touch a few months back to get some feedback for her new short film Earth. The writer/director is Tatiana Doroshenko. While I had problems with some of the dialogue I thought the visual storytelling was strong and said that in an email. More recently, she got in contact to say that she was taking it to Los Angeles for screenings there and asked if I would put those notes up here. As the notes were as much a personal encouragement as my impressions of the work they do not constitute a review. This is my edit:

First the top level, conceptual stuff. It works. Themes like grief and retribution without a vengeance plot could easily clash but here they converge without effort. Very good use of two purposes of photography that are opposites in intention but identical in power; both the secret of the atrocity and the exposed secrets of the tabloid rags relate father to son immediately and convey a sense of duty to the latter powerfully.

So much was established before a word was spoken. Evocative use of colour and mise en scene (the old man's apartment, the exteriors of the housing commission tower and the luxury apartment complex etc. Some dialogue scenes felt too expository and came off stilted for me (the confrontations between George and Eva). Contrasting with this, the dialogue between George and his boss warmed things up with humour. The monologue of George's mother was emotive, well performed and shot with a clear eye to the depth of its meaning.

I enjoyed the electronic score. The final stretch which laid down a slight drone so quiet it was almost imperceptible was exactly what was needed. A mainstream composer would have drowned it with a string section. The restraint shown with these elements reveals a clear respect for the material. That's why it didn't feel a second longer than it should have.

Good luck in L.A., Tatiana. Break a sprocket!