Lizard: Review. By Julius Tabel.
“Lizard” is a short film that presents what seems to be an everyday situation in an African Christian region. The viewer follows a girl that gets ejected from Sunday School and experiences excessive faith and terrible danger while seeming to see a lizard in her mind.
“Lizard” is a very depressing film with dry colors and a cinematography that mostly captures close-ups of unhappy faces. It depicts the helpless situation of growing up under circumstances Western and European Countries could never understand. Somehow though, it isn ́t really sure what its final message is as it ends on a very thought-provoking danger.
There is a constant mood that occurs, being emerged by haunting sounds that reminded me a bit of Denis Villeneuve ́s films: It ́s about the suspense that danger might be around any corner. These sounds are dark and constant, and while they might not scare you, they build up some kind of intimidation that explodes at the climax and leaves the viewer shocked.
Additionally, the colors are very powerful. They are very dry and mostly not shown which makes them feel so unpleasantly and disturbingly. There is no peace in this certainly mostly unknown and foreign region. These are the pictures that feel like something. The dryness makes you think of this living situation. If you then add a little girl to it, you catch the viewer ́s empathy for the situation, but only the situation. Because “Lizard” fails to express something else besides that boundary. It seems too afraid to cross it.
There is a lot of faith thematized in “Lizard”, but this is the part where the makers are too afraid to go further than just show a daily situation. There is nothing extreme about the faith. It ́s not like a depiction of the excess of the 3rd Revelation like in Paul Thomas Anderson ́s “There Will Be Blood”. The sermon might be pretty aggressively spoken, but there is nothing wrong about that as long as there is no violence. The faith is trusted, and the people are fully committed, but “Lizard” fails to make a statement about that. It is more of a presentation than a critique. Don ́t get me wrong, a film doesn ́t necessarily have to be a critique, but “Lizard” achieves at most an atmosphere, but never feelings nor developments.
Developing something, especially characters, is a very difficult task for a short film. But it ́s not about the characters, it ́s just about the child in this world. This is what makes the atmosphere very strong. The given impressions combined with the stunning SFX and colors depict unimaginable situations. This is what the climax of the film is about. When a character is suddenly out of nowhere held at gunpoint, that is when the atmosphere explodes into an intense silence that could define life. But then “Lizard” stops to proceed. If it would have gone a bit deeper, it might have achieved some feelings. Terror and violence are often used,
as nobody in the world wants to embody them. This is why these ending images speak so much louder than words, and why “Lizard” is actually a good short film.
This leaves only one question: What about the lizard? Is it just a sense of incoming danger or is it possibly the child ́s fear of Jesus? Latter would actually be very interesting, but as previously said, “Lizard” doesn ́t go deep enough to really thematize something like that. Nevertheless, its images are still silencing and partly even shocking.
All in all, “Lizard” is a good short film that is at its best in its most silence moments. Intimidating SFX create a suspense of danger, and colors and cinematography combine into a desperate mood. Only the thematic fails to be expressed properly throughout the entirety. Subjects aren ́t depicted enough, and there is no critique or message. Still, “Lizard” is definitely worth a watch.
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