Directed by Jun Bung Lee
Starring Alexander Arnold, Kate Little & Leo Wringer
Short film review by Chris Olson
Written and directed by Jun Bung Lee, Nighthawks is a smartly interwoven tale of urban isolation that throws together three characters for whom the night brings various opportunities to connect with someone else. This is a short film which plays in both the light and the shadows, delivering a tense plot in the frame of a modern love story.
Jack (Alexander Arnold) is a charming yet nervous guy, for whom connection seems to be an elusive dream. We see him engaging with multiple endeavours in order to strike up a relationship with someone, even calling a sex line from a public phone and trying to make small talk. His antics soon put him on course with Miranda (Kate Little), a polite and attractive girl who happens to leave her wallet in a laundrette, only to be found by Jack who calls her and the two end up on a date. Full of initial spark and subtlety, Jack and Miranda’s blooming romance soon hits a hurdle when a drunken lout on a bus humiliates Jack, emasculating him in front of Miranda. At a diner, the two start to pick each other apart in terms of their characters and behaviour, leaving a bitter taste on what was such a promising start.
A third character operates somewhat connected to Jack and Miranda’s love story, Louis (Leo Wringer), a reclusive blind man who leaves tape recorders on buses in order to capture intimate dialogue.
There is a sumptuous depth to Nighthawks that becomes increasingly arresting as the short film develops. By the end you could be utterly craving a second watch, demanding a closer inspection of the intricate plot. Moreover, the performances, in particular from Arnold and Little, are exceptional, delivering scene after scene of brilliant dialogue with a hell of a lot of style.
The aesthetic of Nighthawks is also really impressive, capturing a delicately balanced tone between darkness and light that manages to reflect the nature of the story. Lighting is used particularly well during the diner scene which seems to cast an unwanted vibrancy on this cautionary tale of opening yourself up to new experiences, allowing Jack and Miranda’s tragic spiral into disconnection to be fully illuminated.
Most scenes are allowed to breathe with longer takes, and then mixed up with some quicker cuts which removes any unnecessary bulk from the film, at no point will audiences feel like they are lingering on a scene. There is a degree of messiness from the middle section of the movie, where the story becomes a little more chaotic than it can handle, opting to confuse instead of intrigue. That being said, Jun Bung Lee builds his short film to a deliciously biting climax that is most certainly worth any wait.
Nighthawks is a stylishly shadowy and poignant short film, harking back to noirish movies but with a modern twist, and brought to exuberant life by great performances.