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.