RHOMBUS

3 Stars
Year Released: 2013
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 20 minutes
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I don’t mind experimental films. I really don’t. In fact, I feel that they can be a palate cleanser for film buffs. When you’ve seen too many mainstream movies nothing is better for your soul than watching some weird shit made by genuinely artistic people.

Rhombus is exactly what I’m talking about, pure art. At the same time, Rhombus lasts almost TWENTY FUCKING MINUTES. That’s nearly one thousand, two hundred seconds of bouncing around aimlessly as a clear picture of what’s going on never really develops.

Don’t get me wrong. I love art, especially surrealistic art. Even so, surrealism isn’t about creating a bunch of cryptic bizarreness that doesn’t make any logical sense. It’s about creating a world where reality is seen through a cracked and distorted lens, which means that there has to be an attempt at something real behind the surreal. There has to be someone behind the curtain pulling the levers that control the Wizard. Otherwise, no matter how well intended your work is its just random “stuff” happening for no reason.

This is especially disheartening because if I’m finding this film overlong, and I love the genre, then what is it going to do to people who have no interest in it? Meandering films like this turn them off. It closes their minds before they have a chance to open them. I’m not saying filmmakers don’t have a right to express themselves artistically as they see fit. I’m saying that sometimes you need take the audience into consideration. It’s not just about your vision, but how the audience will interpret your vision.

I briefly paused Rhombus around the time I felt it had run its course. It was ten minutes into it, a running time I feel would be a lot more appropriate. I mean, it’s not like the extra time really adds anything. There’s no story or plot that I can make out, almost no dialogue. Stuff just… happens. To the film’s credit, it looks like interesting stuff. In fact, I’d be quite keen in knowing what was supposed to be happening, but film keeps its cards close to its vest.

What’s especially maddening is that I think a lot of effort had to go into the writing, the character names in the credits certainly suggest a longer and more elaborate story. Yet, what we see on screen are snippets of disjointed imagery, each new scene being followed by one that seems unconnected to the previous. Characters wander around forlornly in an apocalyptic wasteland. Some seem good, others seem evil. Some seem connected, some not. Who knows? The film doesn’t tell.

One of the hardest things to learn when you’re writing is how to correctly give out just enough information to your audience so that they’ll understand what’s going on, but not so much that you’re beating a dead horse and simply repeating things they already figured out ages ago. While it’s annoying to be treated like an imbecile by an insecure writer who explains everything five times, it’s even worse to be treated like a mind reader by a writer who explains nothing at all.

I’m sure that by now, if the filmmakers read this, they must think I hate them. I do not. I admire their work. The film looks very good and is filled with memorable imagery. It’s well edited and the cinematography is excellent. The sound design is some solid work. It’s definitely not a stupid film and it wasn’t made by stupid people.

But…

It’s too damn long and/or too damn vague. The difference between being subtle and being cryptic is actually quite… well… subtle, and while I’m sure director Chris Marsh felt like he was being subtle I have to respectfully disagree. This is borderline incoherent. I can admire what he’s trying to do, but I can’t in all good conscience tell him that he succeeded because he did not.

So how would I improve it, me being so damn smart apparently? Well, I’d add some bits of poetry that explain the story here and there, interspersed with the imagery. The film is already a bit like a music video, finish the job and give it some lyrical connection to the audience. You don’t have to bash them over the head with your ideas, just sort of suggest what’s happening. If that doesn’t work try a narrator, or some intertitles like a silent movie. If that still doesn’t work trim some of the fat off of it. There’s some good stuff here, but it’s too long and it tires the mind because there’s nothing to latch onto.

I know I’m coming off like a heckler that thinks he’s funnier than the comic here, but that isn’t my intention. The director is smarter and more artistic than me, but it’s easy for an artist to get lost while creating something and lose sight of what they were going for. Sometimes they need someone, an impartial third party, to help give things a bit of perspective. I believe in the filmmaker’s abilities. I just don’t think they quite got it right, and I’d rather be a little harsh than cheerfully wave them down the wrong path. The audience deserves better, the filmmakers deserve better, and art deserves better.

Rhombus is probably more solid than I make it sound, and it certainly does a good job of cleansing the mental palate of accumulated mainstream movie gunk, but it still needs tweaking.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.



Posted on July 8, 2014 in Reviews by
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