Directed by: #RizwanWadan
Challenging a multitude of stereotypes and prejudices, short film Character, from Say Hello Films and director Rizwan Wadan, holds little back in getting its overt message across. The result is a thought provoking, if slightly gloopy, piece with impressive cinematic flair.
David Schaal plays a harassed businessman whose bad day gets even worse when a couple of BMX-riding “youths” (Thanim Choudury and Edward Kugutzi) take a key to his fancy car, smash the window in, and rob him. After a witness lets the victim know that one of the boys was Asian, quick assumptions are made and it's not long before racist ramblings come spewing from the businessman's mouth. Listening to the bile is a do-gooder (Aaron Taylor) who helps get the car's window fixed whilst contemplating the foul rhetoric emanating from its owner.
In a film called Character you would hope that plenty of attention had been given to the characters within and it's my pleasure to say that this is the case. There is plenty for the audience to chew on when it comes to intriguing characters with different viewpoints. The dialogue is a little one directional for the majority of the short (with Schaal being given a lot of the lines) but this only tells us more about the personalities being depicted on screen. As the racial and social tensions are explored the viewer is asked to scrutinize what's being said and the reaction to it.
The movie is fairly on the nose with its intentions. A tender score plays throughout, often lending too much gravitas than is necessary. The use of narration at the end injects a large dose of blatant context and religious connotations that threatens to derail the atmosphere of the movie. That being said, there are plenty of excellent themes at work within the story and the #filmmakers do well to represent not just racial and economic disparity but also the generational attitudes that are often just as bleak.
From a filmmaking perspective there are some lovely moments within Character. The use of news reports offering subtle exposition whilst the boys throw stones into the Thames River was a particular highlight. The #London skyline becoming a startling visual representation of some of the unwelcoming aspects of our society. There is also some nice editing used when we see Taylor's character in his garden, encapsulating the anonymous peace of isolation perfectly before ushering him into social conflict. All of which supports the film's motive of exploring our character.
A severe lack of female characters and a little too much eagerness in the schmaltz department aside, this is a worthy outing for first time director Wadan. Great performances (in particular Schaal) and an enjoyable aesthetic make this a compelling cautionary tale.