Social media and cinema have never been the cosiest of bedfellows. Most films that have directly tackled the ubiquity of things like Facebook and Twitter tend to go down the lazy Black Mirror-lite route of decrying the evils of social media, but they hardly ever take note of how we actually use it in our day-to-day lives. Enter Trimaan Lamba’s Cracked Screen: a devastating short film told in bite-size chunks, and shot entirely on Snapchat.
Films shot on smartphones are nothing new (even before Sean S. Baker’s Tangerine there were numerous examples of shorts and even features to use that particular gimmick), but they’ve never felt quite so true-to-life as this. Lamba not only switches between video clips and still images, but uses every feature of Snapchat to full effect. The digital clock filter shows the passage of time during a sleepless night, while captions and annotations are used to both hilarious and heartbreaking effect. Even the vertical aspect ratio adds to the tone of the film by lending the protagonist’s posts a sense of intimacy, which – after an attack that literally comes out of nowhere – gives way to paranoia and claustrophobia.
What’s most intriguing is the way that Lamba taps into the worst aspects of our own behaviour on social media and exploits them. By shooting his film on an app that’s defined by its ephemeral nature he leaves us constantly hungry to know more about this woman whose life we’re glimpsing; even when the story takes a turn for the dramatic and our concern is replaced by voyeurism. Only with the final shot – a change in aspect ratio that would make Xavier Dolan proud – do we get the chance to stop and think about our own reactions.
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CAST: Chantelle Levene
DIRECTOR: Trimaan Lamba
WRITER: Trimaan Lamba
SYNOPSIS: The self-broadcast life of a young woman in London before and after it radically changes.