Directed by: #MichaelLJackson
Despite Michael L. Jackson’s talent, his short film Cost Effective doesn’t deliver.
The short film tells the story we all know: a couple of gangsters are paid to kill a morally corrupt rich man, and later, are out played by a seemingly innocent woman.
The film introduces archetype characters. The rich guy who compensates his lack of power with forcing himself on prostitutes; the desk clerk who is only there for comedic relief; the two gangsters who couldn’t be more different – one is the older and wiser and the other one is the young and stupid; and finally, the star of the film, the innocent young woman who appears to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. By proposing these archetypes the film downplays the screenplay as a cliché, however, it makes it easier for the audience to recognise and connect to these characters, which can be challenging for a short film.
The screenplay is where I had problems with: the film is not clearly separated into three acts, the first one to introduce the characters and to provide a site for the plot twist to happen, it went smoothly, the acting, the character developing and the setting for the second act worked well. The second act follows the first one but it drags a little bit – the last scene is almost half of the film, when the second plot twist happens the film doesn’t go into the third act – on stays in a limbo. Because the scene is so long and the dialogue is forgettable (there is a finite amount of times it is ok to hear the word “bitch” being thrown around) the film lost itself a little bit.
The character of Sam was interesting and Julie Richardson did a good job with what she was dealt with, I just had a hard time accepting how dumb she was. She was a killer who had just outsmarted professional gangsters, and still, all that she thinks about is to become just like one of them – idolizing them – and taking pictures to put on her Snapchat. Having said that, Sam had the most range of emotions in the film and we see her from being a scared prostitute into being a full-blown maniac. She plays them well, too well that when she starts playing dumb and childish it just feels offensive towards the character.
The genre of the film was hard to pinpoint – at times I felt the film was a comedy, but there were some moments that made me rethink that. The soundtrack was well chosen for this film, especially for a cliché comedy (and I say that in a good way). Through the soundtrack I immediately knew who the characters were and what they meant to the story. However, at times it felt that the soundtrack was overused – in the beginning the incessant music “stole the scene” and it felt too much. Because each song was very characteristic they didn’t really tie together as a film soundtrack.
The strongest point in the film was the #cinematography, done by Michael L. Jackson, on top of directing it. The camera movements were flawless as they showed precision and the frames were used to convey meaning within the scene. There is not a dull moment when it comes to the cinematography of this film – the frames are unconventional and they grab our attention.
As mentioned before, the film packs a lot of positive points and Jackson proves he has a talent and a mind for film. Cost Effective has a lot of good ideas behind it, but it felt as if some areas wanted to stand out more than others, instead of creating a harmonious film.