Directed by #AndresRamirez
Film review by Nathanial Eker
Anyone with a basic understanding of film can tell you that the standard frame rate for a motion picture is 24 frames per second. Director Andres Ramirez's Frame poses an interesting philosophical question; if that's the frame rate of film, then what is the frame rate of memory? Does the mind display memories in the same way as what we're familiar with on the silver screen? Do we remember in still images, in a subconscious movie, or in incomprehensible thoughts that can never be fully described? While all of this makes fascinating dinner time conversation, it is regrettably not enough to make Frame an entirely engaging piece.
Sophia and Alex reflect on their relationship, and the heartbreak that came after a rejected VISA. They monologue about what a memory is, how it relates to the practice of cinematography, and whether their love will endure while apart.
The most striking thing about Frame is its effective use of a super 8 camera, which immediately creates a mise-en-scene that is reflective, mournful, and nostalgic. The rackety sound of the film reel underscores the entire film and is beautifully compounded by a simple-yet-haunting piano score. The camera becomes a character of its own, awkwardly observing the events of this would-be tragic romance like an unwanted stalker, until it is finally embraced by the protagonists towards the film's end.
Frame's theme gels well with its cinematographic choices, and it seems a natural fit to employ both still photographs and super 8 cameras as a reoccurring motif in front of the screen as well as behind it. Frame's deliberate use of close camera work compounded with its gorgeous mise-en-scene and delectable soundtrack encourages just as much thought and debate as it does pleasure.
It's unfortunate then, when the characters start speaking.
Yes, as with many shorts, Frame is let immensely down by an underwhelming lead performance and an on-the-nose script. First, the actors, who are by no means appalling. Bailey Colors is clearly the stronger of the pair as her mid-film breakdown at the VISA news offers up the film's most effective emotional gut punch, particularly as the camera is slow to reveal what she's crying about. Marcelo Gonzalez on the other hand presents moments of greatness, but ultimately fails to match the intensity of his co-star, resulting in less chemistry than a budget-cut science department.
Yet, it would be difficult for these two to make these lines sound good, even if they were Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. While the core theme shines through the awkward dialogue, the lines chosen are often unnatural and pantomimic, and damage the integrity of an otherwise well put together short. More to the point, the script lacks a concrete goal, which would be fine had the film thoroughly leaned into the 'art cinema' mould. As is, it feels like Frame wants to have its cake and eat it too; it wants to present a compelling question that gets the audience thinking while still telling a traditional love story, and unfortunately this script is just not strong enough to accomplish that.
Frame boasts one of the most novel concepts seen this year and its visual execution is stunning. The lighting, music, setting, and especially the cinematography all work in tandem to support its intriguing theme. Unfortunately, an unfocused plot with poor writing and average performances hold it back. Had the script been focused on either the theme or the characters, it may have held up better, but as is, Frame is too much of a mixed bag to properly recommend.
I can't shake the feeling that this film could have worked far better as a silent film. As they say, a picture tells a thousand words, and perhaps, a thousand memories per second.