“A young woman’s insecurities manifest as a job interview goes awry.”
Writer Anthony Garland pulls no punches as the director of this unnerving short film, Ophelia. The mood he creates, tense from the outset, will keep audiences rapt. It is not clear in which direction this story will lead, thus capturing the essence of pre-interview nerves. I couldn’t help conjuring up Daisy’s interview in Spaced, though for all its surrealism, Ophelia is so much darker. Visually, it is on a par with Richard Ayoade’s The Double, and it is clear, not least through the names of the characters (Grumpy, Sneezy & Doc), Garland has a sense of humour. Nevertheless, he is willing to tackle strong themes unflinchingly.
I am confident Ophelia will be well received at film festivals, and hopefully Anthony Garland will follow up with a feature. With Black Mirror in mind, Charlie Brooker ought to keep an eye on this one.
Steven Shainberg’s Secretary (2002)
Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (2010)
Greetings again from the darkness. The best short films somehow find a way to connect with viewers and make us care about the story and character(s) – in just a few minutes and usually on a very limited budget. The first film from director (and writer) Anthony Garland expertly establishes atmosphere and tone, creates conflict and develops a character we care about … all in less than 8 minutes.
Garland seizes on one of the biggest emotional stressors for many people … the job interview. The opening scene has a well-dressed Ali Mueller slowly making her way through a dilapidated building while ominous music cues us that we are about to watch a horror film. This horror is psychological in nature and plays to the power of the mind, and the internal battles we fight when plopped into a stressful situation. Ms. Mueller faces a tribunal committee of interviewers (named in the credits as Grumpy, Sneezy, Doc) played by familiar actors whose faces you’ll likely recognize (Mary Pat Gleason, Larry Cedar, Allen Blumenfeld).
The film has a dream-like feel and often we aren’t sure what’s real. However, there are certain segments that are clear manifestations of Ms. Mueller’s insecurities and fears. There is a Black Swan nod with her younger self in the mirror, and a razor blade used to remove any doubt that her outward confidence often fails versus her internal struggles.
It’s a nifty little look at how we seek to control our fears and doubts, and fits nicely with Ophelia’s line from Hamlet: “O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown”.
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