Directed by: #TaraFitzgerald
The production of narrative short films is oftentimes a relentless venture. As a consequence of their definitively limited time-frame, it is often arduous for filmmakers to provide coherent storytelling whilst maximising the intellectual depth of their work. Tara Fitzgerald’s Nothing Important on the other hand is an exemplary demonstration of how these two facets need not be mutually exclusive in her hauntingly expressive short.
Emily Johnson is a former British expat who has returned to the country to reform a life with her husband. As a serviceman however, Emily’s spouse is delayed for an indefinite period of time which forces her to temporarily reside in a stodgy apartment. Following a mysterious series of burglaries throughout Nothing Important, she eventually encounters fellow lonely inhabitant Mrs. Allen. As Emily’s possessions continue to disappear, the identity of each of the residents becomes both increasingly uncertain and untrustworthy.
Undoubtedly inspired by gothic literature, Nothing Important is ultimately oxymoronic. Although it is a faultlessly beautiful viewing experience, it is simultaneously an unbearable one. This is a testament to Fitzgerald’s impeccable orchestration of the film as these contradictory sensations harmonise to permeate it with its dense sensibility. Indeed, such a complex atmosphere can be found amidst every component of Nothing Important.
For instance, Anna Valdez-Hanks’ immaculate cinematography provides the work with its signature gorgeous precision. Yet within the unsettling diegesis, the geometry within Nothing Important is rather an uncanny perfection that demands nothing but scepticism. Similarly, Joby Talbot's melodies offer a pristine serenity which is frequently undermined by the perplexing events of the narrative. Fitzgerald’s faith in her collaborators to proliferate this otherwise convoluted tone thusly validates her own seamless talent as a narrative filmmaker.
Notwithstanding, Fitzgerald’s cinematic aptitude would be moot if not for the extraordinary acting talents of Rachael Stirling and Linda Marlowe. Like the formal features, the two performances skilfully rely on the emotions underlying their subdued moments in lieu of explosive performances. That is not to say that the performances in Nothing Important are monotonous however. Rather, the range of emotions of the protagonists are expressed on a micro-level wherein more is said in the silences than in dialogue. Chiara Menage's screenplay adaptation of Shirley Jackson's short story is undoubtedly attributed here, but it is equally undeniable that Stirling and Marlowe channel a battle of polite wills which could not be expressed by mere words alone.
Nothing Important deceptively appears as a tranquil film with little action to speak of. Nonetheless, Fitzgerald's masterful assembly of her collaborators conveys the film's underlying conflict at each level wherein comfort seems achievable only with repeated viewing. At the time of writing however, Nothing Important remains a troublesome experience.