14 Jul 2022
Sean Joseph young, Nia Roberts, Leila Mimmack
Josh (Young) is having a therapy session. It seems, however, that this is the near future so his therapy has a bit of a different process than we might expect. As we hear him revisit a particular scene from his past we witness him in situ, at a table in the coffee shop in question, waiting for someone to arrive. The therapist (Roberts) in contrast is firmly embedded in her clinical white office and faces towards Josh as she pushes him further on the specifics of his memory.
Josh relays the tale of that day as he waits for Gemma (Mimmack), describing her down to the last detail as she comes in and sits down across from him. We find out that the relationship between Josh and Gemma was very one sided; that she liked to play about with his feelings and toy with him. As Josh talks more about his emotions and his actions around Gemma she gets up and leaves the scene, leaving him alone again and lonelier than ever.
Back in the therapist's office the therapist leans forward, touches a pad in front of her, and suddenly we're off to another scene and another memory where Josh can relate more of his story in an attempt to get to the bottom of the issue at hand. It appears that Josh is wearing some kind of VR headset and is reliving his past as though he were actually there. The more he goes on though, the more we begin to realise that Josh's story, his memories and the details he's deciding to relate, may not be as reliable as we first thought.
Sometime Else then, plays like an episode of Black Mirror, with its near future setting, real life human story aided by technological advancements, and dark undercurrent of malice and fear, all the way through to its ambiguous denouement. It is an interesting idea, mostly running as a play by play psychological thriller, but shot through with sci-fi tropes and future-tech storytelling, all of which are melded together well and offer a new take on an old theme.
Writer/director James Cleave does a great job of making the scenario believable and uses some clever camerawork to obscure certain aspects of the story until they are ready to be revealed. The dialogue is pointed and concise, keeping the characters well defined in their roles and allowing them to have realistic conversations while continually ramping up the tension. The cast work well as their characters with Sean Joseph Young especially coming across as a believable beta-male who has a dangerous streak running through him.
Everything in Sometime Else is well captured and well put together from the cinematography to sound editing to set design. It is especially satisfying to see Mahmoud's cafe transform from a greasy spoon to an urban brasserie in the intervening four years between memories. This continuity and attention to detail speaks to the dedication and professionalism that has gone into making this film the best it can be.
While Sometime Else may well be a variation on a theme, it carves out its own path and tells its own story its own way. It is a clever short which would sit well amongst any of Charlie Brooker's best and darkest episodes.