@Social #Connection short film

Directed by Eric Bair

Starring Gregory Shelby and Holly Maag

Short film review by Chris Olson

Expressing one’s emotions in the modern world has become both ludicrously easy and tragically difficult. Culturally speaking, society has never been so connected (pun intended), we have all invaded each other's homes through mobile devices and social media. It is now so simple to let everyone know how you are feeling, and you can do it in a plethora of creative ways, that traditional forms of communication very often get bypassed. @Social #Connection is a short film, written and directed by Eric Bair, which takes a very modern relationship and throws it into the dark ages - literally.

During a powercut, a couple (Gregory Shelby and Holly Maag), who met via a social dating app five years ago and have since spent the bulk of their relationship communicating via digital means, are forced to abandon their devices and reconnect (pun intended).

Bair’s film, whilst slightly laboring the point, does capture the thematic depth of the story using some delightfully creative cinematic flair. Colour in particular reveals the nature of emotional connection, with the messages the pair send to each other in vibrant colour whilst they themselves remain in black and white, and during one scene where the two touch hands their image is flooded with colour. Sound is also an interesting, if irksome, feature in this silent movie. An electronic score, reminiscent of Super Mario Bros., is layered on top of the film and acts as a rather blatant signpost to the shallow nature of modern relationships like these, capturing the social “points” system in which social media is now a dictator of success or an indicator of popular acceptance, rather than any tangible connection we have within ourselves.

There is a very powerful dynamic on screen, depicted by Shelby and Maag, in which the former’s attempts at real connection seem to be thwarted, mostly, by the latter’s predilection with a more technical relationship. At various points during the short film we see Shelby’s character make awkward moves to increase the physical nature of their relationship, such as inviting her over in person, or suggesting that they have a cuddle. This focus on the male character looking for something more substantial from the relationship, and not just something superficial, is refreshingly welcome in the romance genre, a genre that usually depicts men as open-all-hours sperm banks looking only for instant gratification.

Whilst Bair’s film has a few flaws, such as a bland mise-en-scène and a repetitive story, this is an intelligent, fluent piece of filmmaking that contains some poignant observations about both the enduring themes of human relationships, and the newer twists that have been added to plague our attempts. Shelby’s performance in particular is noteworthy, capturing a refreshing take on the modern man that is thought-provoking.

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