Updated: Sep 2, 2020
Directed by: #TiannaBanton
Written by: #TiannaBanton
The Closer I Get To You is written and directed by Tianna Banton and is the filmmaker’s fifth short. Centred around a young couple in London, the film attempts to capture the trials and tribulations of a relationship marred by dishonesty. Unfortunately, several technical issues further fault what is already a padded-out and lacklustre narrative.
Nadiene (Sarah-Maeva Cialec) and Devon (Louis McSherry-Williams) begin dating after hitting it off with one another through a chance meeting at a nightclub. The two quickly develop a loving relationship and leave their behind friends to be together as much as possible. However, hidden truths put the relationship at risk as Devon’s past threatens to come to light.
The most distracting issue with The Closer I Get To You is the sound mixing. There are many scenes in which it is very difficult to hear the dialogue, which in turn makes it challenging to follow each conversation. While this problem is bad enough in itself, it’s one that is made worse by the near-constant soundtrack that is often louder than the actors speaking. Not only does this additional music make it harder to decipher the already quiet dialogue, it’s also tonally inappropriate in many instances, causing further distraction.
A directing choice that remains consistent throughout the short is a static camera setup. The majority of the film is made up of motionless shots that can go on for up to two or three minutes. As a result, the direction feels very flat with even the expectedly mundane conversational scenes being notably devoid of life. However, credit must be given to the actors for their ability to work through these very long takes all but flawlessly.
Technical problems aside, The Closer I Get To You does little to keep you invested with regards to plot. The film is a straightforward romance tale with a standard boy meets girl setup. Unfortunately, it takes a while for anything of real significance to develop, as we’re dealt out a lot of filler material. Early scenes between Nadiene and her friend Sasha, as well as an extended montage sequence, add very little to the experience and stagger the film’s pacing. For a short that is only thirty-eight minutes long, story-padding such as this feels unnecessary and is detrimental to viewer engagement.
Even when significant plot developments do eventually arise, they amount to nothing more than forced melodrama. The conflicts introduced are trivial at best and evoke little audience reaction, as Nadiene and Devon’s relationship is not developed in any meaningful way so as to earn an emotional payoff. A lack of investment in the couple leads to an unengaging conclusion, with the ending itself seeming muddled, as a bizarre post-credit scene seems to strip all of the weight and consequence from the film’s supposed finale.
For the most part, the performances are enjoyable, with Sarah-Maeva Cialec being the strongest actor by far. Herself and Louis McSherry-Williams have good chemistry throughout the short and play off each other well, right up until the final moments. Unfortunately, the aforementioned sound problems do the performances a slight injustice, but the actors are able to express enough through their physical actions for the general mood to be conveyed.
The Closer I Get To You is a disappointing and unremarkable short film. Even without the sound mixing problems and flat direction, the film’s narrative does little to rouse even the mildest of interest. While the actors work diligently with the material available, their efforts cannot cover over the gaping cracks in the craft.