Short Film Review by: #ChrisBuick
For those who commute in and out of big cities such as London, there is a somewhat well-founded reputation preceding the kinds of interactions (or lack of) that can occur on such journeys. Masses of people crowded together in what are essentially metal tubes, all staring at their various electronic devices or newspapers, rarely bothering to look up even if someone was on fire except for sharing a look of bewilderment and slight disdain for anyone who might throw a casual or inoffensive word their way.
The 38 to Hackney takes a first-hand look at this type of daily excursion through the words and experiences of Brian, a commuter in the London area. Lamenting the lack of interaction and good-will on the capitals transport systems, Brian calls for better human connection and more pleasant experience overall between fellow commuters in the hopes of making everyone’s journey and world that tiny bit better.
The key issue here is that the film is not revealing any information that we don’t already know, or at least not in any ground-breaking way. It is true that we as a society are all seemingly interacting and conversing less each day, eyes constantly glued to our phones and opting for texting rather than talking. The films message is an important one, but it’s not driven home by anything substantial or new and in all honesty, it is delivered poorly through the medium of commuter Brian, who of course means well who rather than delivering a rallying cry, instead comes across as the ramblings of someone with no particular story to tell.
The film itself is presented through a series of stills and clips via an old-fashioned slide reel aesthetic, which works well at first, emphasising the closed-off view people have on these journeys of the world around them, the images displayed just passing peripheral glimpses during such a commute. But after a series of indistinct closeups of buses, trains and crowds, it becomes all too easy to lose interest in this, which then leaves the film with little else to offer.
An interesting visual concept, but despite its well-meaning intentions, The 38 to Hackney doesn’t seem to inspire much of anything, let alone change or discussion.