Written & Directed by: #NathanVass
Short Film Review by: #ChrisBuick
Beginning at the end as it were, Men I Trust opens ever so briefly with a man, Ashley, and a woman, Emma (Krouse and Moseley respectively) walking together in a serene and secluded woodland, a mere flash of a scene but even in those few moments, the palpable silence between them begins to hint at a certain melancholia that will permeate the rest of Nathan Vass’ #shortfilm.
Then begins the first in a series of intermittent flashbacks, we as viewers now finding ourselves transported to the psychedelic mise-en-scene and pulsating beats of a French night club to witness the seemingly destined coming together of Sandro (Naser), partying with a younger Emma (Suttie) revealed soon enough to be her sister, and a younger Ashley (Destiche). Eyes meet across the crowded dancefloor which of course leads to a drink, then an exchange of numbers meaning before either of them truly know it, a certain destiny has been fulfilled and a life of unequivocal happiness together has been set in motion.
However, as the narrative switches back and forth between the timelines, we learn (if we hadn’t perhaps already sensed) that Sandro’s was a life tragically cut short, an event that ultimately brings us back to present where Ashley and Emma find themselves looking to both honour Sandro’s memory while also trying to work through their own and each other's painful grief.
Men I Trust may be a simple story, but it is one that is extremely well told and also one where almost every aspect of the piece is geared towards adding something of substance to the overall sentiment Vass is trying to achieve.
One such example and perhaps the most striking is the effective use of flashbacks. These not only create a sophisticated throughway to cleverly incorporate the films lean but sufficient backstory, but the contrasting tones of the two timelines help keep the films pace at an engaging level, while also creating a delightful juxtaposition of moods, the frantic atmosphere of that past nightclub meet-cute exhibiting all the exuberance and hopefulness of youth and perfectly balancing the much slower and retrospective present where we find our characters dealing with lives lost rather than lives waiting to be lived.
It is a film that asks a lot of interesting and pertinent questions about life, loss, purpose and death, but never assumes to really impose any specific ideals or opinions, allowing viewers to take away from it what they will to some degree. It is also a film that seems quite sedated in its approach, never afraid to take its time, with Vass seemingly more than happy to let silences linger and looks say the things that perhaps words couldn’t and for the most part it’s this steady hand that allows the emotion of this piece to really hit as hard as it wants to, even if it slows down a touch too much right at the very end. Finally, the cast play their parts to the nth degree as well, specifically Krouse and Moseley who are responsible for carrying the films substantial emotional heft and do so with aplomb, while their younger counterparts also shine in giving the film its welcome sense of hope.
While Men I Trust may predominantly be a beautifully sensitive study of grief, pain and loss, it is equally an inspiring tale of destiny, hope and the importance of seizing opportunities, all wrapped up in a very accomplished piece of filmmaking and storytelling.
Watch the trailer here: