Thursday 14 February 2013

Babble (2012)

Director: Alexander S Pawlak
Star: Kainion Bachtel

I've long wondered why nobody has done something like this before for an IFP film challenge, at least not while I've been paying attention. After all, if you're working to limitations to begin with, why not add more of your own? It seems like the logical time and place to experiment with your art, to shoot something a little different, to shock the audience into paying attention rather than coaxing them gently through subtleties. Most people just make little dramas that fit the shorter required running time, often with a twist ending to be memorable. Alexander Pawlak of Flight in the Eye chose not to do that here. Whatever else Babble might be, it's a very different entry into this IFP Masterpiece set. While its competitors aimed to outdo each other on grounds of cinematic quality, Babble simply aimed to be different, to stand out from the crowd by not resembling any of them in any fashion whatsoever. For that at least, I'll happily give it props.

What Pawlak did, working from a story by Sarah Woodward and adapted into a script by Heather Woodward, was to hit us with a six minute rant in free verse, delivered as a monologue and shot in black, white and fleshtone. 'Don't judge me,' says the focus of our attention, before proceeding to press us into doing just that. He's clearly unhinged, his facial and body tics mimicked by odd camera movements, which mostly comprise a long, slow pull back to highlight that he's confined by a black straitjacket, but seem to also include odd zooms in and out and little shuffles sideways. I really haven't a clue what this is all about, but maybe he killed his mother and hates the media or some such. I don't think it's important, but if you can figure it out, please let me know. Kainion Bachtel is solid though, appearing to act far less than become a living art installation. Beyond his performance, there wasn't anything here for me though beyond the wake up call.

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