Directed by: #MatthewKyleLevine
Written by: Matthew Kyle Levine
Carly is Miss Freelance. She gets paid to have sex with men. She doesn’t seem to need the money though. Unlike many prostitute characters, there is no implication that is she is pressured into this situation, she doesn’t work for anyone (hence the title of Miss Freelance), she’s not addicted to heroin, she isn’t constantly finding herself in situations of physical danger and assault. Miss Freelance throws out these conventions, these perhaps misogynistic and outdated representations of woman in this profession as trashy whores, sluts, junkies, girls that need to be punished for their promiscuity, and are done so in violent bloodbaths.
Instead, Carly’s suffering appears to be more mental. She is not in the job for the money, or for drugs, but seemingly for validation. She appears lost and confused, and she’s looking for her place in this strange world. This is what separates Miss Freelance as a special #shortfilm. It deals with the subject matter with subtlety and finesse. One of its shining features is Murphy’s performance as Carly; at times she seems perfectly in control, there is a robotic-like quality to her unwavering stoicism, yet at other times, she is childlike, naïve and unassuming. The result is something quietly disconcerting but simultaneously immediately likeable – you’ll watch in equal parts confusion, sympathy and horror.
The #cinematography adds to this feeling of unrest. The camera is never steady, never quite in proper focus, never centring the action. The film is packed full of close-ups on Carly’s face, drawing you in to her mesmerising performance, she’s almost always shot from slightly above, highlighting this childlike quality that is so uncomfortably at odds with her occupation. The editing, too, is uneasy, awkward, never quite right. We cut from one thing to the next the way a child stops playing with one toy and grabs another: without warning, or clear motivation, yet somehow naturally.
Despite these great visuals, it is the sound that is perhaps best at creating the film’s strange mood, which is impressive given that there’s so little of it. Trains, cars, footsteps, and crucially, television shows, make the film’s ambient soundtrack. It is this white noise that crackles and hums in the background that creates the awkward tensions and demonstrates Carly’s isolation. Particularly during the sex scenes, in which heavy breathing and bed rustling is set against silence, drawing painful attention to how uncomfortable and disconcerting the whole situation is.
When describing how her clients feel about her, Carly says “when they open the door and see me standing there, I can see it in their eyes, they’re so excited. It’s as if all of their fantasies have come true”; well, that’s sort of how I feel about this film. Maybe try to not think too much into that one...