Aurora POster small.jpg

Aurora

3.25
Average: 3.3 (6 votes)
The Star-Crossed Lovers Movie
Christchurch > 09
Thanks for reviewing. We had a blast this year. We knew we had a strong idea and the challenge was to see if we could pull it off and we are pretty happy with the result.
kiwidoc
5.04

Very effective, nice filming of the 2nd character, and definitely hit the right vein of pathos. Would have loved to see the story develop more but 5 min....

MistaTeas
5.04

A quiet, timid receptionist fantasizes about her dream date.

Liked the limited dialogue and your use of shadows/silhouettes as a major part of the narrative and indeed character. I do think it could have been shorter as we got the point pretty early and some of the scenes therefore felt a little repetitive. What I always admire about Upshot is that they can do comedy and can do serious - and they do both well. Solid acting and technical work all-round.

I'm a bit of a VFX addict, so I spent a lot of time analysing the shots with the shadow man trying to figure out where the masking was to create these effects and tbh I'm still a little confused on how you did it so well done! You got me fooled. The ending wasn't particularly satisfying as it would have been nice to see something different happen, also wondered why the lights kept turning on?

You guys have some great skill, look forward to seeing what you can do next year.

I have loved watching Upshot's films continue to improve every year. This was perhaps my favourite film of theirs yet.

The cinematography was lovely and I too found myself looking for the areas of masking in the couch and Table shots wondering how you did it. And as much as I think I knew where it was it was still smooth enough and convincing enough for me to not be 100% sure. So well done for that!

I loved seeing you take an element and write a unique story off of it. Also the lead actress was FANTASTIC. Really enjoyed her performance. The way she managed to hold the audience's attention for 5 mins with no dialogue was really impressive and would love to see her get a nomination for her role. Super charismatic and loveable.

Only thing this film lacked was a deeper understanding of the character and what was going on along with perhaps a bigger payoff. Perhaps it could have lead to a more heartbreaking ending where she knows that the sunrise will mean the end of her date and you can see the sadness of what that means build. Sadly we never got to quite know why she had this *spoilers* date with a Shadow or why the lights were turning on to end it. So 10/10 for the concept but a few points lost for not quite nailing the payoff.

Overall really enjoyed the film and fully deserves to be in the top 25 and a possible finalist too.

A woman finishes up at the office for the day. She goes and gets dressed up and make-upped up, clearly getting ready to go out. Then she goes to... somewhere (it looked very school-y, but I suspect it was meant to be simply her home), and has a series of romantic evenings with a shadowy figure. By which I mean literally a shadow, incorporeal - whether this is a Peter Pan-esque shadow, or simply a visual representation of an imaginary lover, I was left uncertain about, but when the lights and/or reality come back on, he is gone.

This film drew me in from the start, with a vivid use of colour and a singular focus on one character. The vast majority of 48HOURS films tend to get stuck in a mid-shot limbo, seemingly too afraid to get too close to their characters, but not this one - it's camera got right up close and tightly-framed on her face, notably in the getting ready sequence, lingering comfortably in that intimate space, which I really appreciated. And from start to finish, an air of loneliness hangs over this whole piece; even in a populated space like her place of work, there's a sense of (self-imposed?) isolation. The overall mood was thick with romantic melancholy.

I would of course be remiss to not mention the shadow itself - a) always deeply satisfying to see a film use a required element as a core, fundamental part of its story, and b) what an effect! All in-camera (although I had a couple of moments of "is this maybe a composite shot?" - if it wasn't, I guess that's a compliment), this was a wonderfully creative piece of visual magic, married with some clever coordination of the action. Long after the film had finished, I still had those marvellous shots lingering in my memory.

Ultimately, with the story here, I found myself at the end left slightly confused, and slightly unsatisfied. There were a few technical points of clarification around the reality of what we were seeing, and what the 'rules' of that reality were. First and foremost, was the shadow an actual person/thing, or merely a figment of the woman's mind? (The rules of their interaction as presented were also fairly fluid - why could we see a hovering fork holding spaghetti, but the shadow of a man holding a glass had no floating wine glass in front of it?) Also, was she at home, or elsewhere? What was the nature of her relationship to the shadow? Was the light coming on an actual light coming on, or just the world of her imagination snapping back to real life? (As a technical note, if the intention was the latter, then the issue was that we heard the sound of a light switch clicking, which strongly implied that there was someone else who had just walked into the dark room and turned on the light.)

Beyond these points, I guess I just felt that the story didn't really progress beyond the initial setup of her going on dates with this shadow. It seemed like the team had come up with a wonderful idea, but then weren't quite sure what to do with it. (Which, to be sure, is a GOOD problem to have, when compared with films that have no interesting ideas to begin with.) That said, if viewed less as an end-to-end narrative and more as a sort of romantic meditation, I found it to be tonally very effective.

I have followed what this team have done for a few years (partly due to them being regular heat-mates), and it's interesting to observe that for me the sweet spot with Upshot films is when they tap that vein of featuring loveable low-status characters - the lovely post-it note story from a few years back, for instance. This film tracks a similar course, giving us a bit of a warm fuzzy with some beautiful moments. Lovely stuff.

The details for this one are a little foggy for me, I’m sorry, but overall I remember enjoying the film, just erhaps thinking that the full story was a little unclear. Certainly a neat concept and shows some potential.

Alexander Jones
city manager

I am a sucker for a sweetly romantic short like this one. I'm such a softy.

Obviously the way in which this film stands out is the clever editing technique of the shadow man interacting with the film's lead, and as others have said, I've found myself really struggling to figure out how some of it was even done.

The lead character is a great casting choice to, she's got that Zooey Deschanel adorkable vibe to her, which really carried the film as she was both a photogenic actress and came across as the kind of social outcast who would find solace in dating a shadow ghost.

There are a couple of 'in universe' issues here though- Sometimes the shadow drank out of glass shadows, and ate with fork shadows, and sometimes we're told he's literally holding a solid fork. Fixes for these small problems would have really elevated the effect of this film.

I also wanted a definitive reason for why the lights were turning on at the end of each date, even if they were just automated I would have liked to have been told that.

As much as I loved watching the couple's adventures continue, I'm unsure why the film continues past the first night, as we basically just see the same thing happen (lights turn on, shadow disappears) again. As with a lot of films this year, I would have liked a more conclusive ending/development/hook to the film which brought everything full circle.

As for your title, "Aurora" feels a little cliche. I think there's a better title hidden in here somewhere.