Directed by Harry Plowden
Starring Joe Pass
Short Film Review by Annie Vincent
Any film as short as 1 minute and 22 seconds has got to work incredibly hard to capture its audience’s attention and plant a seed – some interesting idea or profound thought – to be credible in this very challenging and unique space in the world of film. Unfortunately, Lighter has fallen short of the mark here, though there are some elements of note.
Lighter narrates the fleeting thoughts of a homeless man. Wandering through the underpasses of a city, somewhere in the UK, he thinks back on all that he’s heard today. From the polite members of the public it is mainly: ‘sorry, I’ve got no change mate’, but from the less polite it is: ‘get a job’. These voices cease as the man’s thoughts turn to collecting as many cigarette ends as he can to while away the night hours.
And whilst there are some interesting techniques being utilised here: the voiceover section at the beginning of the film; the handheld camera work through the underpass; the clever editing to create a pacey montage of the man smoking; none of these gel together to deliver the audience any sense of why we should be watching this.
We have no idea why the film is called Lighter, other than this man needs one to smoke through his evening, but he has one – this isn’t about his search for one. If it was, perhaps there’d be some metaphorical truth about ‘searching for the light’ to be inferred. I feel there is some deeper meaning to this title: day time is better than night when you live on the streets, or that forgetting people’s unkindness can make you emotionally lighter perhaps – but who knows? Perhaps there is nothing at all to be read into here, but then the questions remain the same: why has this film been made? What was this director’s intention?
There isn’t enough to go on in Lighter to be able to answer those questions: bumpy territory to be leaving your audience in.