Directed by Phil Newsom
Starring Timothy J. Cox and Kristi McCarson
Short film review by Monica Jowett
Simple Mind is a short mystery film about a man, Bob (Timothy J. Cox), who through the help of therapy discovers parts of himself and a life he never imagined. Written and directed by Phil Newsom, Simple Mind is a film of no budget, filmed over two days, yet the twisting story line and careful camera work makes it an intriguing watch.
The film follows Bob, who is in love with a woman called Samantha (Kristi McCarson) yet this woman does not reciprocate those feelings, and is also unaware of Bob’s existence. He is relaying his actions to a therapist, and describing his feelings for this woman as the therapist helps the man uncover what is really going on. As his conversation with the therapist develops, we come to learn that Bob has a troubled and dark past, yet it feels like something is missing.
We are clued in that everything Bob says is not what it seems quickly. The intensity in the way he speaks about the woman Samantha is just too creepy and often strained. The constant use of extreme close ups that tightly frame Bob’s eyes or mouth, as well as the therapist whom he is talking to, is used to emphasize the mystery of his story and the passion of his subject.
Filmed and edited by Paul Nameck, the cinematography and editing is cleverly used and effective within the short film. The close ups and off centre framing builds tension and certain low angle shots present Bob with having power and strength. The quick cuts between Bob’s features show his tormented emotions as he talks with the therapist. However this is used to trick the viewer so the last scenes have a greater impact. The music, from Keith Campbell, plays another role in creating the mystery surrounding this man. The music rises and falls throughout; at times it is cheerful, music to fit a romantic comedy but will change pace suddenly. This adds another component to scenes for better effect.
Simple Mind’s only downfall is the dialogue clarity, as when the actors speak, at times it sounds as though the conversation is over a phone. This small detail is the only tell of the lack of budget, as the film’s strengths lay in other, more noticeable areas. Cox portrays with ease the conflicted and mysterious Bob, and McCarson gives enough class that we can understand the man’s infatuation. This short soars on the clever editing and camera work, which utilises the simple plot twist into full effect.
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