Friday, November 8, 2013

Film Review: Noah (Patrick Cederberg, Walter Woodman) 2013 [Short]

Short films, as opposed to feature-length cinema, are almost always ‘high-concept’, i.e. possible to sum up as an idea in a single sentence.  For example, what would it be like to wake up over and over again on the same day (Groundhog Day)? Or what if machines had enslaved mankind without us knowing (The Matrix)?  Due to their length and budgets, short films usually use a high-concept idea and explore it in a fun and simple way.
Noah uses a high-concept style to tell a story:  How would a relationship breakdown look from the point-of-view of a computer user?


The film is told entirely through screenshots of Apple software, Facebook, Skype and Chat Roulette and explores the relationships people have with these products, as they maintain the relationships they have with real people… 
Noah is idly browsing porn sites and Wikipedia as he lazily video-calls his girlfriend Amy, who is concerned about their relationship changing as they leave for college.  When the call is interrupted he freaks out and thinks that she is breaking up with him, so he logs into her Facebook account in order to check her messages and interactions with other guys.  It then shows the aftermath of his paranoia
If you can accept that the cinematography of the film is simply watching someone browse Facebook, then the narrative and the message of the film is pure zeitgeist, in a way that no other film I have ever seen has captured a moment in time so beautifully (mid-2012; chat roulette has already disappeared from the cultural conversation).  The film manages to be distanced and voyeuristic and yet intimate, funny and awkward, but not judgmental.  Ultimately this captures how young people interact online more than any teen blockbuster can get close to.


It is the perfect video to go viral online and I hope it gets seen by as many people as possible whilst it still feels fresh, although I also think that it will serve as a snapshot (snapchat?) into online reality for future virtual historians.

Noah is showing at the Bath Film Festival on December 1st 2013

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