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Smoke short film review

★★

Directed by: #ReshavChowdhury Written by: #ReshavChowdhury Starring: #ManishMaharshi #KunalChowdury Film review by: Max White


 

Little else says troubled and contemplative like a man sucking on a cigarette. True to the title of writer/director Reshav Chowdhury’s film, someone smokes in almost every scene. The relevance of that theme isn’t particularly clear, except maybe for the more sinister connotation?


Smoke is a short film about a love affair that drives a wedge between two friends. When we meet our protagonist, known as Boy 1 (Manish Maharshi), he’s in a small, scruffy dwelling holding his head in his hands. There’s a loud buzzing sound that threatens to detonate before cutting to the din of the streets outside.


A fag or two later and he’s on the corner tracking someone, careful not to be seen. It’s his friend, Boy 2 (Kunal Chowdhury). At about the film’s halfway mark (roughly 4 minutes in) we hear the first spoken line. It tells us there’s a conflict between the two men. It’s over a girl.


Now, occasionally an indie film will have a genuinely interesting idea, but the budget hasn’t stretched far enough for the effects or the talent to hold the concept up. Sadly, this one has neither effects, talent nor idea.


It’s a story that takes you from A to B with no thrills, twists or turns. It’s a rollercoaster that follows a straight track at a safe, slow pace. Which is neither fun nor memorable; it’s more of a commute than a ride.


The best short filmmakers can say a lot in a short space of time. By taking up so much of the running time with sulking and smoking, sulking and smoking, Chowdhury struggles to say anything at all. A lot of what we see are luxuries that only feature films can afford to enjoy, where the character’s story can develop with the commodity of time, and we, the audience, can decide if we care enough to invest in them.


The less said about the abrupt arrival of a funky bassline the better. And really, truly, who thought those bashing sounds resembled anything even remotely like a shovel? Again, budgets and so on, but if something takes you out of a film quite like that did, and at such an important point, you have to ask if it’s worth including at all.


At 8 minutes long, this isn’t a waste of time. There’s enough happening on screen to make it watchable from beginning to end, but inefficient storytelling and some wooden acting mean Smoke won't linger for long.


 

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