Tuesday 10 September 2013

The Key (2013)

Director: Ivana Kat
Star: King Jonathan
This film was a submission to one of the IFP Phoenix film challenges in 2013. Here's an index to my reviews of 2013 submissions.
Certainly the most visually striking film in the IFP Beat the Clock challenge this year, it's an intriguing but ultimately unsatisfying piece. A topless man with a muscled physique meditates within a circle of candles and finds himself by a river. He's still topless but he's wearing a silver cape and he dances his way down to the water, from which a mysterious veiled woman emerges with an apple for him. If this sounds like the story of creation as performed by Gorgeous George, that's not far off because there's no explanation given at all. Presumably the unnamed character played by King Jonathan is attempting astral projection, but why that prompts him to flounce around fluttering his shiny cape I have no idea. I'd suggest performance art but it's over at the river when we find ourselves in symbolism territory. That side of things carries on until the rapid fire end credits and perhaps would also be considered performance art, if only the moves had covered a wider choreography than just coughing.

I have to admire the ambition of Ivana Kat, who edited, produced and directed, because this isn't the sort of picture that tends to get produced for a 48 hour film challenge. I'm happy to see something a little more experimental submitted for competition and this certainly stood out from within much less ambitious company. Jonathan certainly has the presence to pull something like this off and the setting he's given in which to do it is just as visually striking. Unfortunately, if there's depth to the symbolism, I'm at a loss to explain it. Certainly I can't delve too far here without finding myself in spoiler territory, but the only obvious explanation is the really obvious one that ties to one man using astral travel to seek knowledge in some sort of arcane realm, with the prop of the title acting as both a metaphorical and a literal device. If that's it, it's pretty straightforward, even if this is a five minute short. However, if it isn't, I really don't haven't a clue. It's striking and memorable but I still don't know what else it is.

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