Written by: #ElleJaeStewart
Public Relations is a bit of an anomaly in that it isn’t a complete story. Instead, it’s a proof-of-concept pilot for a 10-part series, and, as such, reviewing it as a film with a whole narrative isn’t possible because it just doesn’t work. And there are a few issues here and there, but if the point of a pilot is to peak one’s interest (and it absolutely is), then Public Relations is a resounding success.
Chelsea (Elle Jae Stewart), is a celebrity public relations agent, you know, the people that fix things when a celebrity gets caught in a potentially career-damaging situation. And she’s good at her job. But she obsesses about her own image and reputation as much as that of any of her client’s. So, after discovering her husband’s, Andrew (Marcus Henderson), infidelity and with her image now in jeopardy, Chelsea reacts violently.
In Public Relations, we only get to see the beginnings of Chelsea’s revenge; the movie ends before we witness its full extent or its aftermath. Still, I think it’s reasonably apparent where, as a series, Stewart (who co-directs and writes as well as starring in the lead) would like to take it. Chelsea will do something terrible, as we’ve partially seen, and have to spin another web of lies, but this time, covering her own misdoings. It’s an intriguing premise, and I’d be lying if I said this short pilot didn’t have me wanting more by the end.
There are a couple of issues, however. First and foremost is the basic production value. Nothing particularly stands out or feels like it’s being used to full effect. Like the score, for example: while it’s certainly not bad, it just isn’t utilised to full effect. Now, having said that, this is more likely due to the film being a proof-of-concept piece and not a finished project. I fully expect the finished product will remedy these particular problems. And while the picture quality itself isn’t always brilliant, Ellington Tynes’ cinematography (in particular, the framing and lighting) is superb.
But Public Relations’ real strength lies in Elle Stewart’s aptitude for writing realistic characters, dialogues, and spinning intricate webs for them to get stuck in. In fact, the quality of writing is such that it alone should be more than enough to guarantee a good series getting made. But with everything else thrown in (the superb performances, brilliant camera work, and better-utilised score), this could be a fantastically gripping, tension-filled thriller.