Directed by #GiacomoGex
It is, of course, not fresh news that society’s addictive preoccupation with mobile-phone technology is affecting our day-to-day human interaction. One certainly doesn’t have to go far to see the familiar sight of people with heads down, palms up, phubbing away, immersed in a world of mobile information and play. Of course, nowhere is this is more an everyday familiarity than on public transport, something that British-French filmmaker Giacomo Gex’s Crush uses to bookend his effective 8-minute short film, Crush.
Marcus (Kyvon Edwin) catches the eye of Natalie (Shai Frumkin) during an inner-city train journey. Intrigued, Natalie follows him, asks him about the book he is reading, and the pair share an instant connection. When the evening comes to a close, Marcus makes his move and asks Natalie out for coffee the next day. They meet, the spark is there again, and a relationship soon flourishes.
As the only characters in the film, Edwin and Frumkin (also joint-writers) are quietly charismatic and wonderfully natural performers. We have no trouble accepting the progress of their relationship and there is a graceful believability to how we see their lives together unfold on screen. The fact that this is achieved in such a condensed running time is a credit to both their talents and the instinctive direction of Gex, who achieves a documentary-like quality in capturing Marcus and Natalie’s time as a couple. Edwin and Frumkin perform effortlessly, as though there is no camera and Gex allows us to simply watch without gimmicky distraction. We could just as well be watching a documentary; that’s how natural it feels. It’s a winning synthesis between director and actors.
If there is an obtrusion in Crush, then it’s the soundtrack. For the second portion of the film, the music of A.M Architect and Palemonte almost drowns out the actors to the point where it’s they who almost become the background noise. Perhaps though, intentionally or not, there is an irony to this barrier, particularly when Gex reveals his Sliding Doors ending. All we hear, at the end, are chugs and clunks of the train. Gone is the incidental music and conversation. And gone is the relationship.
Crush’s final revelation has been done before, but it works. In just 8 minutes, we’ve journeyed with these characters; the director has kept us alongside them through their relationship though we’ve never felt like intruders. However, Gex shows us that there is in fact a worrying intrusion in our midsts that, if left unchecked, is potentially destructive to human interaction, opportunities and, ultimately, relationships.