Nov 22, 2022
Ryan Brown, Jonathan Taylor, Simon Connolly
Half legal drama half personal, short film Blurred Lines explores the copyright infringement case around the popular 2013 song of the same name. Robin Thicke provides vocals on the track and is played by Ryan Bown. We see the man struggle when questioned about his involvement with the song, and his personal battle with drugs and alcohol during the recording and the promotion since. Pharrell Williams (played by Jonathan Taylor) is also under heavy fire, calling into question his abilities as a songwriter and whether he borrowed elements of music from Marvin Gaye in order to create the infamous song.
With a polished finish and a well-crafted sense of conflict and tension throughout, Blurred Lines is a short film that uses the faces of its characters to do the bulk of the heavy lifting. We are given plenty of close-up shots of Robin and Pharrell to expertly expose their anxiety, whilst jumping around chronologically in the story in order to keep the viewer on their toes. We see the characters in the studio, seemingly excited about the “birth” of the song but there is also a sense of foreboding in some of the non-verbal exchanges. The scenes where they are giving testimony see these tensions come to bear, as each of the main characters seems troubled in different ways as to how they ended up here.
This is brilliantly exampled when Robin plays out a popular chord progression on a small keyboard, in order to demonstrate the plethora of pop songs that use it. His attempt to redeem himself with Pharrell by restoring the dents to the former NERD artist’s reputation feels loaded with regret and pathos.
The editing is important in the film to reflect Thicke’s troubled state of mind. We jump bluntly from his interview answers to them being read back to him in the legal setting. This is unnerving viewing and the performance of Simon Connolly as the questioner is full of brilliant intimidation and cool retorts.
As with any representation of history, it’s going to be difficult to cover all angles. With Blurred Lines, it feels that this isn’t short film territory. There’s not enough development given to the backstory or the outcome and it feels that we are given a snapshot of something that needed to be much bigger. The angst between Thicke and Williams needed to be played out over a longer period in order for the culmination and payoff to be more effective. As it is, the film is engaging, stylishly filmed, and full of plenty of highlights, viewers may just find themselves without much time to explore the space between the lines.