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Facades short film review


Film review by Nathanial Eker

A seemingly personal expression of the difficulties of human connection, Facades aims to capture the 'dynamic, complex connections between self-awareness and relationships'. To that end, director-writer-producer-editor-sound designer Gregory Alexander Foltynowicz largely succeeds in crafting a non-linear narrative that effectively explores the whirlwind of emotions that come with a serious, adult relationship. Where Facades slightly falls down in is in its penchant for the generically typical and its overuse of ambiguity, which may leave some audience members a tad put out.

Facades is an impressive looking short. The monochromatic colour palette so often employed in dream-like experimental films puts in the work here to craft an other-worldly atmosphere that makes us feel like we are inside our protagonist's mind bubble. Equally, the consistent motif of the striking image of a crutch provides a perhaps less-than-subtle, yet definitively effective hint at what these two may have become to one another.

The use of water is a slightly more conflicting point. On the one hand, the metaphorical bliss experienced by the two beautifully summarises those moments of sheer euphoria, where nothing matters but each other. Managing to say that with nothing but an image is a powerful skill that Foltynowicz and their team should be commended for. Yet, particularly in the arthouse world, drowning has become such a tired shorthand for feeling emotionally overwhelmed that one almost wonders if Facades could've tried something a little more adventurous.

Pedantry aside, the mise-en-scéne crafted in Facades can only be described as stunning. From the clinical world of the couple's imagination to the film noir-style party where they are isolated by their own intensity, everything is well-considered and well-executed. This, as well as the low ambient hum of the soundtrack leads the narrative in a direction that can be understood in a number of different ways.

In this sense, Facades struggles to finds its feet towards its climax, and becomes far more open to interpretation. This isn't necessarily a criticism; its final image is certainly striking, but a more finite closure perhaps could've worked in its favour. The film does so well in telling a traditional 'struggling relationship' story in a profoundly untraditional way that it seems a shame to leave it quite so open ended.

Facades is equally defined by its acting, which is universally exceptional. Kircher and McGregor convey substantial chemistry and deep emotional scars in a mere ten minutes and with no words. Had their expressions been over the top or their dynamic underwhelming, the entire film would've been nothing more than a smart editing exercise with some ominous music and cool 80s morph suits. Fortunately, whether down to excellent direction, natural talent, or a combination of the two, the performers sell their viscerally realistic relationship, and invite us to watch as they struggle to overcome their metaphorical crutches.

To conclude, Facades is a fascinating and personal experience that effectively dives into the complex highs and lows of being in a relationship. It effectively tells its tale through startlingly powerful imagery and a stunning monochromatic mise-en-scéne. While it sometimes devolves into experimental typicalities, it does so in such a slick and professional manner that it is hard not to find it engaging.


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