Directed by Chris Hallas
Starring Claire Marlein and Tom Loone
Short Film Review by Michael Fiott
The concept of fate is an aspect that is up for debate much of the time in day to day life. We question whether events are just ‘meant to be’ or whether our actions are the main catalyst in our fortunes and misfortunes, especially when it comes to our relationships. This is a debate that is tested in Chris Hallas’s film (aptly named) Fate, as a chance encounter in a coffee shop leads to a man and a woman having an unexpected first date that flows scarily well for their first encounter.
The dialogue written by Hallas is rather exemplary from start to finish in this short film, he makes Dom and Jenny feel like natural people that we can relate to and even at times prompted me to feel as though I wanted to join the conversation to tell them both my opinions on TV, music and art. Hallas doesn’t simply allow for the dialogue to speak for itself either, with a few subtle visual cues that enhance both character’s personalities, we feel as though we know both of them almost at a personal level and are genuinely interested in where their night will lead.
This effect is doubled by the humble performances of both Claire Marlein and Tom Loone whose acting improves throughout its length, neither actor goes overboard and shows exuberant amounts of character, which is rather excellent as it parallels us if we were in the same situation with a stranger. All that is portrayed is a level of intrigue and shock that they could meet someone and instantly have so much in common with, a feeling that the majority of people would find suspicious and sometimes with good reason. This suspicion reveals a major theme for the film in its second half, that being the feeling of desperation.
In terms of craft, Fate hits the mark in most areas, especially in its lighting and use of music. It has a colour scheme of subtle yellows and dark oranges which at once represents the stranger’s blossoming intrigue for each other and also quietly highlights almost every feature of their faces. As the colours are used to highlight the more positive emotions, the use of music creates a nice contrast as its only melancholy love song tailors the darker half of the film in a brilliant use of montage.
Not to take away from the the positives this short has, but certainly something noticeable is the rather awkward editing at the start of the film, its hard cuts create a rushed effect in between lines of dialogue, which forced an important scene along in an abrupt manner. This feeling is tapered, but not helped along, by its safe use of shot reverse shot, never truly daring to give us close ups of each character to reveal subtle facial expressions or even show both of their faces at the same time during the duration of their stay in the coffee shop.
That being said, this is a great effort from Hallas to create a human story, focusing more on realism than classic Hollywood romance, he makes the film work with his precise and thoughtful dialogue which was certainly the best aspect overall. Certainly worth a watch.