Directed by: #JPGifford
Written by: J.P. Gifford
The Man in the Suit Movie Review
Starring Harry Duff-Walker as Joshua and Mayalani Moes as Kate, The Man in the Suit is a psychological-thriller written and directed by J. P. Gifford.
The film opens up with Joshua at the beach, he has been stabbed and is having problems breathing. The story, then, is told through his experiences, but as a “narrator”, someone who is letting the audience know what happened, but not necessarily narrating it, he is unreliable – we cannot trust his point-of-view of what truly happened as he keeps being contested by Kate. To heighten the mystery, Joshua lives through snippets of moments that are repeated and contradictory. Kate forces him to remember the real events and makes him question his own memories. They are too painful, however, and despite having seen them a hundred times, he does not want to relive them. Just before breaking down, he says to Kate, almost as if pleading her to stop - “just because I remember what happened doesn’t mean I want to relive it” – the trauma shown here is partly due to Duff-Walker’s brilliant acting, but through perfectly applied cinematic conventions as well. In a story like this, where we are invited to feel alongside the main character, it is of the utmost importance that the cinematography and the sound come into a consensus with the narrative. And here, the story mixes diegetic sounds, such as the waves on the beach, with nondiegetic, ominous score that augment the underlying psychology of the film. The close-ups on Joshua’s face during his flashbacks and his own constructed scenarios illustrate that the problem is in his mind which furthers his feeling of loneliness and entrapment in his painful past.
The location wherein the film was shot is perfect – the grandiosity and emptiness of the beach, when contrasted with the white cliffs, put into evidence Joshua’s own emptiness and lack of purpose. Joshua falls to his knees and looks at the ocean as if watching his memories – on one hand they are beautiful and peaceful, but on the other they have the power to overwhelm and drown him. Not coming to terms with what happened, though, is literally killing him – whether by a real assault or by his own harmful unconsciousness.
The characters speak of the “end of the world” as something that has happened and that Joshua has been the sole survivor of. Again, Gifford constructs the film ambiguously and we can interpret this “end of the world” in two different ways: either the world has truly ended and that would explain Joshua’s desolation, or we could take it as something that has happened to Joshua that has left his world crumbling, and that he has survived – although barely. Nevertheless, by having these pieces of the puzzle, we can make up a narrative that best suits us as individual members of the audience, which I think tells a lot about the brilliance of Gifford’s short.
The Man in the Suit is a story about trauma and how a person can be haunted by it, struggling to move forward without coming to terms with one’s past.