Cinema’s main purpose is not just to tell a story, but the story of a person. When these stories and people are shrouded in mystery, they become more fascinating to filmmakers and viewers alike. For filmmakers, the medium is an opportunity to explain these mysteries.
In Carol Morley’s Dreams of a Life, the director tries reconstruct the life of Joyce Vincent, who died alone in her flat, through vignettes narrated by her friends. David Fincher’s Zodiac directly explores themes of obsession related to the mystery surrounding the eponymous serial killer.
With BAFTA-nominated filmmaker Jörn Threlfall’s Over, however, the subject’s story is told in an innovative way. Presenting a series of scenes of an average British street, Threlfall and his cinematographer Jeremy Bannister’s camera dictates the atmosphere of the short film, alternating between documentary-esque observation and emotive close-up focus-pulls, to keep the viewer immersed. While there is an element of detachment, this feeling is towards the locals who run, walk, and drive in and out of the frame. Threlfall certainly overcomes an obstacle in that the person we feel most attachment to is the one whose face is not seen, nor voice heard.
Sound Designer Patch Rowland’s subtle work – as seen with Over’s overheard rather than projected dialogue – combined with the steady, long take camera shots connotes the short film’s Realist overtones. Nevertheless, just as Dreams of a Life is more than a documentary and Zodiac more than simply your average thriller, Threlfall combines genres.
Over does not adhere to time’s linearity, instead working backwards through time in order to create mystery. Everyday props – a car, a bunch of flowers, and so on – become evidence, the viewer being an active participant rather than a passive audience member. By the final frame the film’s final theme is clear: loneliness.
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DIRECTOR: Jörn Threlfall
PRODUCER: Jeremy Bannister
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Richard Mott
MUSIC: Lennert Busch
EDITOR: Amanda James
SOUND DESIGN: Patch Rowland
SYNOPSIS: In a quiet neighbourhood, an unimaginable and strange event occurs. Staying at the scene of the crime, the film explores the event in reverse order, the nine wide shots culminating in a mysterious and unexpected conclusion.