Directed by #YoussefTabbiche
Film review by Nathanial Eker
Initially appearing to be an intriguing character study, Seeing It as It Isn’t palpably succumbs to the old rule of ‘no conflict, no interest.’ Though Director Youssef Tabbiche flirts with ideas of artistic process and human interaction, there’s zero driving force to form a narrative that’s at all compelling. It needn’t be noted that thematic undertones are a vital ingredient in a powerful story, but when a short lacks any kind of obstacle, you’re usually in trouble.
Edgidio is a musician, and a stereotypically broody one at that. Through the course of an average day, he laments his lack of passion and the state of modern relationships to his various companions.
With a synopsis of such brevity, it’s perhaps no surprise that the film lacks proficient direction. There are seeds of potential sewn by Tabbiche; he effectively crafts the basics of well-rounded characters and the performances, particularly that of Edigidio Valastro, are convincing and on the whole, truthful. Tabbiche infuses a semi-documentary aesthetic, aided intriguingly by the use of the actor’s real names. It’s unfortunate then, that at the ten-minute mark it becomes dreadfully apparent that nothing of consequence is going to occur and there remains a further ten minutes of semi-pretentious monologuing to endure.
While the copious longwinded speeches occasionally present an insightful topic for debate, they’re largely hindered by a lack of focus and a tendency to dive too deep, too quickly. Crafting a film that ignores traditional narrative structures in favour of mere character interaction is a dangerous game, as razor sharp dialogue is essential. This is, after all, a film set entirely in one location (and a fairly dull one at that) without the aid of stunning cinematography to fall back on. There are attempts at naturalistic conversation, as characters speak over one another, but this almost always feels forced and jarring.
Is there anything to compel viewers to watch Seeing It as It Isn’t? To give credit where due, music naturally plays a part in creating its strong, bohemian atmosphere. The diegetic pieces played by Valastro too, while hardly ground-breaking, offer merciful respite from the incessant monologues. The realistic camaraderie established in just twenty minutes is commendable, as the performances create naturalistic relations, which in turn lead to a greater filmic verisimilitude.
To review, Seeing It as It Isn’t feels like an admirable misfire. The director clearly wants to say something about the nature of art, creation, and associations, but any meaningful commentary is buried deep beneath a layer of tedious dialogue and mediocre scene structure. There are films that can say much purely on the merits of compelling characters and witty dialogue; films that do the impossible and entertain their audience for twenty minutes without the realisation that nothing has happened. Unfortunately, no matter how noble its efforts, Seeing It as It Isn’t is not one such film. Audiences will find themselves blindly waving around to see what is there, as there isn’t much.