About eight months ago I read a review by Roger Ebert about a film entitled Shame. He gave it a four star rating and praised every facet of it. His review intrigued me so I went and looked up some more reviews of the film. One of the first links I clicked on lead to a website called “And So It Begins…” and that was my first introduction to the work of Alex Withrow. Since then I have always visited his website at least once a day, looking forward to his always brilliant content. A few months ago when I looked to see what was new on there, I saw a post about his new short film that he was working on: Earrings. Since then it has become one of my most anticipated films of the year. Today it was released and let me tell you. It did not disappoint.
Earrings takes place in the midst of a woman named Chlo’s downfall after a terrible catalyst occurs and leads her into multiple negative behaviors. Chlo is played to perfection by Catherine Warner, an actress that I hadn’t heard about prior to this film but I am sure that we’ll all be hearing about her in the future. Most of the film is free of dialogue and that results in her having to really express her character through subtle movements, looks, and mannerisms. That is where the excellence of her performance stems from. She manages to portray great emotion though subtle facial expressions. The first and really the only time her character has dialogue is during a brilliant extended conversation between her and a man who we soon find out is a friend of her ex-fiancee. In that five minute span we really learn all of the back story that had been hinted at prior to the explanation. Even in the explanation the dialogue doesn’t attempt to insult your intelligence but rather give you the parts to piece together the story yourself. In this scene it really showcases another aspect of the actresses talent in her delivery of the dialogue. It is a marvelous performance.
As I said before, most of the film does not have dialogue which results in a greater emphasis on things like cinematography and editing. All of the minor problems that I had with the film come from this area. There were a jump cuts that were a little off and didn’t exactly look natural. Other than that all of the editing was very well done. Then there was the cinematography. I absolutely loved the cinematography. There were two instances in particular where the camera would remain still on Chloe where she was in front of a window in an otherwise dark room and all you could see was her silhouette and I thought those scenes were extraordinarily well done. While the cinematography was good throughout the entire film there was one sequence that kind of stands above everything else for me. Following the centerpiece conversation that I talked about earlier there is a three minute sequence where Withrow really hit his stride. It is reminiscent of Brandon’s downfall in Shame as we watch Chlo in her most desperate moments. All of the camerawork and coloring in that sequence were absolutely flawless and resulted in one of the most memorable pieces of the film.
That same sequence shows one of my favorite aspects of the film and that is the use of music. There are two songs used in this film and both of them fit perfectly into what is occurring on screen and really complements the scenes well. I have to say that I am a bit biased when it comes to the music as the film’s final few minutes contain a song by one of my favorite bands: M83. Regardless of that, the use of music was excellent.
I’ve been waiting for this film for the last few months and now that it’s here it was even better than I thought. At 32 minutes it flies in front of your eyes and leaves you thinking about the brilliance that you just observed. Alex is a clearly gifted filmmaker and I hope to see similarly great things from him in the future.
You can check out the film here: http://vimeo.com/46372044