This movie has gripped my attention. It seems like the exact kind of thing I would want to make -- and you, having made it, have shown me all the flaws that so often come alongside a film that is so auterial, so arthouse, so deeply emotionally inspired. There's a lot to talk about, and I think I want to work through the film with you here, in the pursuit of uncovering that fine line between the movie in our minds and the movie in the audience's eyes.
Genre. Nature run amok. Others have called the movie out on this and I can understand why, however I can definitely see a lot of ways that it can be interpreted. The disease that Quinn gets at the start of the film -- is that not nature running amok on this relationship, and that man's life? I think some of the other reviewers missed that point -- but that exact aspect, the fact they missed it, is just as much a problem with the film as it is with them. The audience, I guess, was not expecting your unique take on nature run amok -- and perhaps you failed to give enough explicit screen time to this idea of the disease (if that is indeed what you were going for).
But that brings me onto this second idea. This idea of literalism, or realism, or whatever you want to call it. After the climax, when Quinn sees Eliza in the dark, it's implied that she's a vision of sorts, she isn't really there. Is this a kind of personification of nature, perhaps, death coming to take him? It very well could be so - and if so - it puts your film fully in the scope of nature run amok. But that's the thing, it's so subjective, so deeply subjective, and I'm not sure this is what the audience is looking for. In my own films, I've had a tendency to do the same thing -- to shy away from ever telling the audience exactly what is happening. It's an extension of the whole, 'show, don't tell' philosophy, but when it comes down to it, the audience wants to know what's going on -- THEN they want to think about it. And this creates a tricky dilemma for your ending sequence, because a surface-level interpretation tells us that nothing happens. A deeper interpretation, well, who knows.
I've watched you film several times now and each time I feel it much more strongly. The emotions you are trying to conjure, as another reviewer pointed out, are definitely difficult to earn in five minutes. With the complexity of your narrative, and the relative 'flatness' of the music and cinematography, your challenge is made even greater. But I think, when you really pay attention, there is a lot going on here. The cinematography is not flashy but it is purposeful (and extremely impressive for a duo team). There's these incredible moments -- moments with flickers of light -- that feel so accidental yet so purposeful and immediately evoke images of A Ghost Story.
Let's talk about sound. Fuck ADR. Who cares about the sound quality? I can hear the lines well enough. Of course it isn't perfect, but in the climax of the film, the strong ambiance was really powerful and builds quite a bit of tension. The music in the film is quite good too, fitting at the very least. In terms of acting, I thought that Eliza was played perfectly convincingly, though Quinn, while being otherwise pretty spotless, has one moment when he makes the phone call where he literally sounds like a monotone Adam Driver. A little underwhelming for such a climactic moment.
I feel a great level of attention to detail in the film, that comes through in a way that people don't expect. This might be me looking too far into things, but shots which might otherwise seem throwaway, feel like they have intentionality behind them. The short sequence where Quinn wakes up and looks out the window -- the flashbacks, and the reflections, seem connected. The scribble on the wall, half-lit in the low sun, the theme of white, coldness, nothingness, white like the blank page of Quinn's notebook and the flashes of light as Eliza approaches.
My media studies teacher always asked me, when I was making a film, who my target audience was. Now I really understand why. I'm sure you love your film, and it has managed to reach me too. But were you aiming for wider 48 hours appeal? The wider 48hours audience that expects a solid depiction of genre, a strong, fast-paced narrative, a confronting mixture of drama and comedy? I guess I shouldn't presume to tell you what you should aim for, but I think it's worth taking a step back, to find that fine line, where the most amount of people can share in your vision. Then again, maybe it's all the conventional beats you miss that make this work so appealing to me. Oh it's so easy to over-think.
Your film is not nothing. Your film feels. Now you just need to find a way for it to talk.