Directed by: #JackCarter
Written by: #JackCarter
Many films aimed at or starring children are wordless or have limited dialogue. Think The Snowman, Shaun the Sheep or Belleville Rendez-vous. All these films heavily rely on physical comedy and general cinematic wonderment rather than count on explosive dialogue. It is rather bold to make a film without this crutch, but for many of these films, this precise lack of dialogue presents them with new opportunities. Director Jack Carter’s film Ham and Cheese is such a film, playing with childhood whimsy and ideas about transience.
Each day, a young boy runs up the stairs, brushes his teeth, puts his toothbrush back in its cup, and bounds back down the stairs where his father and two brothers wait for him. On their way to school, they walk across a park, where the young boy meets an old man and his dog. Each day, the boy feeds the dog one slice of ham and one slice of cheese. The film quickly establishes a rhythm and a monotony to the boy’s life. As the child merrily slips into the routine of feeding the dog, the dog becomes increasingly frailer, a fact which goes unnoticed by the small child.
Ham and Cheese is a capable film. However, it doesn’t experiment with the perimeters it sets out for itself. Except for two words of dialogue, this is a silent film. It’s a real challenge to craft something excellent without spoken word. The only real sound throughout the film is the continuous soundtrack, but this soundtrack is whimsical, and it borders on being cheesy. Experimentation here is critical, but Ham and Cheese isn’t ground-breaking. Neither does it explore physical comedy – something which is often used in this genre of the modern silent film. The cloned shots of the boy running down the stairs and brushing his teeth were almost certain to become monotonous, but without the depth of experimentation this film needed, the end result is a bland and boring one.
Rather like the ham & cheese sandwich you get at the train station, with its plastic grated cheese and soft white bread – this film is entirely serviceable. It will sustain you, but it won’t excite you. But after you’ve finished this sandwich – indeed – after you’ve finished this film, you realise you wanted something more. Carter has made a serviceable film, but this project is lacking in experimentation. Ham and Cheese doesn’t quite cut the mustard.