VIMEO Awards 2012: Left Right

Here we are for another review on the contestants for the narrative short film category at the VIMEO Awards 2012.

You can find more information about this year’s VIMEO Awards clicking here. For the list of short films taking part in the narrative lineup, click here.

Tonight’s short film is Left Right, by Tom Willems.

An arm enjoying the breeze passing between its hair. A baby’s hand contorting. Another hand holds the baby’s head. The baby’s arm rests motionless at his mother’s lap. An adult finger approaches the baby’s right hand. The left one clenches and relax while thr right one is cherished by the adult finger on its palm.

— This is an expensive film. The shooting is unbelievably magnificent, easily the best cinematography so far and shots themselves couldn’t be framed any better. The score deserves an Oscar, recalls Jonny Greenwood’s There Will Be Blood, but still so disparate. Even impressed by the technical mastery of this work so far, i must attend to its narrative. We’re at the 2-minute mark and not much has been shown, it seems to be a film about hands and perhaps the discrimination from left to right.

The left arm in the breeze, there is a noticeable spot in the hand. The right hand holds the wheel, we’re in a car. A kid’s left arm paints a picture with a crayon, we can see the spot there, so it’s the same person from the car. An female adult hand takes the crayon away and places it at the kid’s right hand. Seems like the left hand envies the right one. This is made more clear while the right hand plays with marbles and the left hand is left in the dirty, holding the soil with will and anger. The left hand is always forsaken.

Hands in the air, dancing, it’s a night club. Hands are held, a girl carries our character by hand to the back of the club. They make out. The left hand grabs her ass and the right hand takes advantage of her breast. The left seeks for more fun, but the girl doesn’t let it. The right seems to press her breast even hard over the rival’s failure. The left hand looses the grab.

Driving. Entering a tunnel. The left hand picks the wheel for the right one to change the gear. We enter the tunnel. Some shots of the left hand trying to reach higher while its owner is asleep. It fails, don’t bother a guy’s sleep, stupid hand. Man is doing his nails with a clipper. The right hand cuts the last nail from the left hand and passes the clipper. It cuts way too deep and the finger of the right hand bleeds. The left hand graps the wheel. The man is in the hospital, he raises his left arm, searching for his right shoulder, but the arm is not there anymore. He has a robotic arm prothesis now as right arm. The new right hand picks a pen disposed at his front. The left hand lies immobile. Possibly frustrated. In the tunnel, the left hand turns the steering wheel all the way left and the car crashes at the wall.

— Let’s be honest, this is a great short film, but the narrative is so subtle it is hard to actually realize there’s one until the film is over. The concept is very strong, a film about AHS in a morbid atmosphere, watching the alien hand being denied is almost sad. Even though trying the best, it’s hard to express feelings with hands only and sometimes it simply gets too vague.

— In narrative terms, if there’s something it does totally right is using the nonlinear narrative. Some people think that it does make your movie fancy, although it is a resource. Structurally speaking, we have several different timelines in the story: 1. baby; 2. kid with crayon; 3. kid playing marbles; 4. making out at nightclub; 5. cutting nails; 6. man at bed; 7. driving; 8. man at the hospital/robotic arm. In a linear narrative, this film would suck because most of these scenes simply reinforce the same statement: left hand is denied of all the good stuff. In a regular narrative this would certainly be repetitive, but since all these ‘introductory’ narratives entwine in themselves as they simultaneously illustrate the same information, they end up being a single solid block.

— As the car enters the tunnel, the introduction is over. The left hand has gained control and from now on the situations will explore how would it abuse this. But what is unusual is that we have the flashforward in the hospital right before the car crash, it obviously happens after the accident, so that’s the outcome and as the robotic prothesis picks the pen we see in the next shot the left hand is defeated. This is irony, without the hospital, the film ends in a car crash and it sets the tone to tragedy, but as we know the aftermath, we do not feel shocked, however pessimistic that the poor left hand critical attempt to be the only one failed.

— The lesson here is: use nonlinear narrative to change your story, to justify your scenes. It is a tool, a really good one, don’t use it to make your film complicated or fancy. Good films are none of those things. They do what it takes to get the story done the best way.

RATING: 8/10

Review’s schedule:

19/05: The Ghosts, by Eddie O’Keefe; (read)
20/05: Prologue, by Bradley W. Ragland; (read)
21/05: Webcam, by Zbros Productions; (read)
22/05: A Bitch, by Matthew Miller; (read)
23/05: Left Right, by Tom Willems;
24/05: The Hive, by Blind Aura Pictures;
25/05: Hooked, by Stuart Howe;
26/05: Pothound, by Christopher Guiness;
27/05: The Division of Gravity, by Rob Chiu;
28/05: Blinky™, by Ruairi Robinson;
29/05: Human Beings, by Jonathan Entwistle;
30/05: Ham Sandwich, by Dave Green.

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