|Index||3 reviews in total|
The Red Shoes, Black Swan, Billy Elliott. So far, so predictable. I had been a residential ballet student from the age of 8 to 15 and related to this story though. At that vulnerable age, being tested daily and my figure constantly monitored for any 'undesirable' changes, I soon found a needy self esteem and survival being balanced with a need to hit out. That hasn't been portrayed in anything I've seen before. Fortunately, you don't have to have gone through that to enjoy this short. Incisive direction, great cinematography and brilliant use of particular location (it looks like they used Richmond Park - Royal Ballet School) create a rhythm around a constant road-movie type forward momentum. I would have liked to have seen a longer version of this film though, which at 10mins, with such strong themes on display is ambitious in scope and not quite enough time to bring about a fuller cycle of intent in an otherwise masterful piece of work. Watch out deer.
As so often is the case with recent UK shorts, there is often so little
story telling. It would be refreshing if filmmakers broke the kitchen
sink and did so without feeling any compulsion to remove plot. In its
place their micro studies of a particular moment, expanded into
significance, proliferate the festival circuit. You are good at these.
Assessment could see its filmmakers help move this increasingly loved format into some new territory. This film is no genre-masher but it melds normally unhappy bedfellows: Romance and drama into something fresh, likable and interesting.
Rifle shots punctuate the story, reminding us precarious lives hang in the balance under the microscope of adult supervision and scrutiny. Music is employed is a naturalistic way, leaking from headphones or latterly from ballet school dorms with sudden power and emotion. There are excellent performances from the two leads in a film employing entirely unknowns all of which refuse to be the weakest link.
Not everyone's gonna like the style but those that do will feel a glow of satisfaction that it is still possible to find powerful and emotive visual story telling in our shorts scene. Having come up through what's left of the old UK Film Council's shorts funding, lets hope the likes of this and too few others herald a new confidence.
Assessments lacks any wit, or even the remotest morsel of humour,
making it so serious you'll find it hard not to vomit from the odours
of over-confidence and directorial arrogance, somehow synchronised with
poor narrative and over-reliance on pretty images.
Shots are seemingly composed for the sake of aesthetics rather than meaning- a sure sign of a film empty from any real message or philosophy.
Whilst the none linear narrative is all very well if lacking justification, other than to hide what is in fact an incredibly bland story, it does nothing to change the feeling, meaning, or two dimensional characters of Assessments. Worse is the direction, which in fact seems to have taken a back seat to an over ambitious set of nonsensical visuals. The little direction there is to speak of wreaks of indecision and inability, and the inexperienced cast are used badly.
And yet, what really stands out as the worst attribute of an overall very poor short, is its complete lack of either depth or intelligence. Simple movies are fine, when that's what they are; but this is a simple movie dressed up to be something else. At its heart Assessments is pretentious, with unfulfilled aspirations of being a comment, or even just an observation, of youth emotion. Its tone is thoughtful, and yet it is quite thoughtless. Avoid.
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