He said…she said: a short film review

This short film review of mine was first published here at shortz

 

(Major spoilers…)

How do you dramatise the malady of modern relationships? When I read the synopsis of this short – ‘Marriages are made in heaven… what happens to it by the time it materialises on earth?’- I was curious about this. But after watching the short, it  appears that the logline is a little too generic for what happens with the couple in the short.

But if you don’t approach ‘He said… she said’ with any prior misconceptions, it does reward you. What  the back bone of this short film really is the brilliant acting by the lead characters especially Prashant Narayan. Until I googled him, I didn’t realise that he is a successful film actor. He deserves to be. The improvisations he manages on screen makes it a real pleasure to watch this short.
Another strength of this short is the production values. The quality and destiny of your short is inevitably linked to the quality of your equipment and expertise of those who handle them.
I liked the basic idea. And the twist in the end is very well set up with the calendar, the character of the husband who repeatedly tries to joke about everything in the first segment etc. The first half of the film where the wife tries to do a cross word puzzle while the husband is busy on his laptop is infused with a certain credibility. Even though the conversation is deceptively simple and mundane, it is very tough to achieve that in terms of writing, directing and acting. The second segment (after husband admits to the relationship) is also well made but I felt that even though it has come out beautifully, cannot claim the kind of simplicity and credibility of first half. There are beautiful lines out there (‘We are both travelling in the same boat but with different people’) but it is difficult to believe that immediately after admitting to an extramarital relationship from both sides, a husband and wife will talk (poetically) like this . At least on the same day of the revelation.
My biggest problem with this short is the ‘talking heads’ syndrome. With the subject matter, definitely it is going to be dialogue dependent (even though a much more daunting challenge would have been to use the pauses and silences well within the time constraints of a short film without the dialogue being too exposure heavy or meandering) . But some how an effort doesn’t appear to be made to break the monotonous nature of the camera angles and repeated visuals of heads of characters talking into the camera. Interestingly, it is only for a very short duration both the characters are together in the same frame even though they are talking to each other incessantly through out the film. Don’t know whether this was intentional but at times we don’t even feel they are in the same room. Towards the end, the amount of light exposure and tint of light is different for these characters even though they are standing near to each other. There is a lack of fluidity in the execution and shot selection of the scene where wife closes the laptop and husband grabs her hand.  But I liked the decision to abruptly start the second part of the film after that such that husband has already confessed to his extra marital relationship.
The title of the short film could have been better.