22 September 2019 | bob the moo
Effective in its pace and tone in silently exploring the roots
Shortly after a couple of mass shootings felt like both a good and bad time to be watching this short film. The El Paso weekend just occurred when I saw this online, and I wasn't sure I really wanted to watch a film that focused on the plight of a guy under modern pressures who decides his frustration can be directed at an immigrant. On the other hand though, maybe it is a good thing to understand that these are people changed, driven by something other than pure logic - and not just people who decide to murder others going about their days, but just people who embraced the 2016 US election as a chance to protest with their vote, to get behind someone willing to blame others on their behalf.
The film focuses on a janitor. You can sense the tiredness in him, the feeling that the grind will never end. There is a lot simmering, but the film doesn't give us an easy root for this, but you do get that it is economic, personal value, external pressures, and many other things that have produced this intensity and anger within him. The lashing out is seen in context then, and it has more meaning to understand him as more than just some angry racist, but to have more of a feel for what ground him down to this place. This is not to say that it makes excuses for him, or tries to justify where he is - but it is understandable. Michael Rose is great in the lead, getting his character just right - and he is well supported by Van Driest, who also balances her character very well.
The slow pace and slightly tense tone work well, and I liked that the silence produced so much unspoken detail. Well worth a look for how balanced and insightful it is, with such a deft touch.