Two Distant Strangers Short Film Review

★★★★★ Stars

Directed by: #TravonFree, #MartinDesmondRoe

Starring: #JoeyBada$$, #AndrewHoward, #ZariaSimone

Film Review by: Alicia Moore

The image is split in two - the left sports a white background and the right a navy one. An officer stands the right, facing the man who stands in a bright yellow hoodie on the left.
(From left) Joey Bada$$ and Andrew Howard

Two Distant Strangers follows Carter (Joey Bada$$) as he repeatedly attempts to travel back home to his loving dog; each attempt leading him to a fatal encounter with an officer that then resets the day over. His only choice after waking up where he had been previously is to walk straight into the same situation once more. Determined to beat this cycle of pain, Carter follows the current as he tries to uncover the key to finally arriving safely home.

As we join together around the globe in a wave of movements to bring people of colour power, justice, freedom and a sense of healing, Two Distant Strangers is a short film that tightly holds hands with the many who are doing the same and raising their voices. These movements, like Black Lives Matter, are not a trend in the media as some individuals have disgustingly treated it to be – lives are threatened day by day, and lives are lost in these numbers too. This rightfully Oscar-nominated short presents incredibly impactful visuals paired with impressive, weighted writing (Travon Free) which paints the mind in permanent ink. This film leaves a mark on its viewer, and that is exactly what is needed from a visual source in the climate we are currently in. The base concept of being ‘stuck in a loop of time’ powerfully mirrors that of real life events; there is no doubt that one could state that being faced with terrifying white supremacy and acts of hate crimes at every turn is simply a loop. History is being repeated — not only decades of history but also the history of each passing week. Reports of deaths arise too often… a gut wrenching loop. I want to say thank you to writer Travon Free for such an emotionally stimulating concept.

I was excited to see Joey Bada$$ in this role and he didn’t disappoint (as expected.) He gives a spectacular performance from start to finish. Out of all the cinematic elements that band together to bring tears to my eyes, I found that the acting was the final push to let the tears flow. I would imagine that bringing the character Carter to life must have come with certain hurdles to jump over in order to fully make the character’s place in the story hard hitting. The story is timely and heartbreaking in itself, but his outpour of personal reaction and feeling provides the audience with a true connection to Carter. An extreme amount of empathy is drawn from this, giving the film an extra branch of significance.

Although the cinematography (Jessica Young) doesn’t delve into any groundbreaking techniques, that wasn’t a necessary goal to achieve anyway. Jessica Young and directors, Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe, pair together to allow the camera to follow the intensity of the movements and physical strikes in each scene, as well as beautifully strengthening the message the story is forming throughout. It leaves me speechless seeing that cinematography like this can have that much of an influence on the film as a whole, but the work on Two Distant Strangers feels quite ‘next level’ in this regard: as if I haven’t been able to regain the ability again as of yet.

I don’t only highly recommend that you watch Two Distant Strangers, nor am I just asking you to do so, I’m really telling you to make time for this short film. It is an exceedingly important watch for all. I’m also very glad that I can say it is widely accessible right now through Netflix.