Directed by: #MarkDuggan
Written by: #MarkDuggan
X marks the spot. X is a kiss at the end of a letter. X is the sign of finality, the end of a relationship. In this black and white musing on relationships past and present, writer and director Mark Duggan gently explores the questions we have in the backs of our minds and in the pits of our stomachs. Why do we settle? And if a relationship fails, can we find love again?
The Man (Terence J Corbett) is a forty-something photographer, running his own studio with his friend Simon (Johnny Byron). A montage of characters walks in, all looking for a decent photo to try and catch that special somebody. All are from different walks of life, yet they all grapple with the same predicament. Just getting on Tinder isn’t enough for us anymore. It certainly isn’t enough for our main character, who is reeling from the fallout of his last relationship with his ex-girlfriend, Kate (Jennifer Hayden). We quickly learn that his ex was far more explosive and abusive than earlier scenes indicate, and The Man is struggling to cope.
Black and white films are usually thought to either be a flashy gimmick or a by-product of the artistically quirky. Think, The Artist or The Lighthouse. Yet, in the 40s and 50s, when technicolour became more popular, black and white films were considered the best cinematic medium to reveal reality. The continued use of black, whites and greys informs the viewer on Duggan’s crisp honesty present in the filmmaking and the script. This isn’t a brutal watch, and there are moments of levity. Simon is a cad and witty conversations about the Beatles pepper the script. Although X flirts with this film’s potential as a comedy – X is still bitingly realist.
Duggan’s tight script carefully massages the wounds left behind from a traumatic toxic relationship. Everywhere our main character looks, there are reminders of his past life. An argument on the street sets off his own recollection of vitriolic arguments on numerous street corners. These moments of memory aren’t tacked on or ham-fisted. Instead, they slowly confirm that the main character is hopelessly stuck in the past and memories cling to him like tar. Yet, there is a ray of hope. Marie (Andrea Pizza) lives four thousand miles away from her loved ones, and after an explosive end to her last relationship, is yearning to return to the USA. The main character meets her at his photography studio, and together they share their respective traumas.
You would expect X to be sad. To be brimming full of anguish and regret. Instead, Duggan delivers a powerful film which communicates the sharp edges of relationships which photoshopped pictures on Tinder can’t vocalise. Although the film is occasionally a little overlong, Duggan still delivers an incredibly nuanced piece of work. If X does indeed mark the spot, dig here.