The Living (2012)

Getting stopped by a magician.

Getting stopped by a magician.

An interesting genre of movies is the advertisement movie. The example I think of off-hand is The Hire series of short films. The Hire was a series of short films made by BMW to showcase their cars, and they starred Clive Owen as The Driver. Each movie followed The Driver on a new adventure where he does something awesome with a different BMW car each time. Each film had a different helm, and A-listers like Wong Kar-Wai and Guy Ritchie got to direct their own film. Owen also shared the screen with the likes of Madonna and Mickey Rourke. Sure they were advertisements, but they made for some excellent short films too.

HyLo Boutiques went a similar route with The Living, which featured the characters all wearing HyLo clothes. It essentially tells the tale of a widower who tries to go on a date only for it to go horribly wrong when he met a traveling magician.

What is interesting is how director Lendl Tellington decided to make The Living a latter-day silent movie. Nary a word is said for the movie’s entire 7-minute duration. If you ask me, making a director shoot a silent film is a great exercise in that it forces him to “show” visually instead of  relying on his ability to “tell” with excessive expository dialogue.

And in its showing, The Living had some terrific cinematography. I loved the shot-compositions. My favorite one was one early on where we see the date (Siying Chen) brushing her hair in front of a mirror. The camera pans across a set of mirrors. The reflections made for an interesting mise-en-scene.

However, The Living had exactly the same problem I have with every other short film I have seen, and that is I felt the character development was a little lacking. Besides the widower, I didn’t really know much in the way about anyone’s motivation for what they did. It may be because this was very much a “what you see is what you get” type movie. Perhaps if the movie was a couple minutes longer, I would have gotten the character development I would have liked.

Overall, The Living was an interesting audio-visual experience. It shows that even when its primary purpose is to be an advertisement, it doesn’t necessarily make for a bad movie.

Score: 3/4

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