366 Underground is an occasional feature that looks at the weird world of contemporary low- and micro-budget cinema, the underbelly of independent film.
DIRECTED BY: John Bradburn
FEATURING: Heather Darcy, Mish Boyko, Dave Rowland, Nicola Hardman, Ellie Clemments, Rhian Green, Sean Harris, Aidan Keenan
PLOT: A woman moves in to an idyllic country house to recover from a traumatic event. One
day she rescues a man from crashing his motorbike. She becomes obsessed with him and is slowly drawn into his world in an experimental narrative that flows through reality, fantasy, fear and imagination along different streams of consciousness.
COMMENTS: Wrists (official site) is more successful in the experimental realm, in communicating mood, than it is in the narrative, which is pared down to the bare minimum. There’s not much dialog to clue one in on what’s happening; the first spoken word isn’t heard until 14 minutes into the film. It’s a novel way to immediately involve the spectator by forcing him to construct what’s going on, but it could take several viewings to get the picture. In my own case, I was fairly certain for the first 20 or so minutes that some artsy apocalyptic disaster had occurred and that the two main characters would be the only ones in the narrative… until the first car and other character appeared.
While providing a minimum of information to allow the audience to work out things for themselves can be stimulating, it only went so far with Wrists. Combined with its languid pace, the film was very good at inducing a nap midway through the running time. Twice. Your own experience may vary.
That said, I do appreciate the approach that the filmmakers took. I probably would have had a greater love for this film had it been half the length (it’s 86 minutes), or if the director had pandered more to my need for more clues to the concrete narrative, such that provided in the official synopsis below:
Wrists follows Julie as she recovers in an isolated rural cottage. Bored she wanders the countryside and tries to waste time. Hearing a noise outside she rescues a mysterious young man – Clark – from a motorcycle accident.
Slowly she becomes obsessed with him and is drawn in to his dark world. He works in a city collecting debts. Clark has never really thought of escape. In meeting Julie he way have met his saviour.
Wrists is not really that weird—the most successful element is its atmosphere and mood, which is very dreamlike due to the lack of dialog. It’s almost like being in the minds of the two main characters. The thing is, the characters don’t really do very much, and what action there is was more conducive to going on the nod than to engaging fully with the film—in my case.
This is John Bradburn’s second feature. His first, Kyle (IMDB), about a young man’s attempt to fit back into society after being released from prison, screened in festivals and small venues, and Wrists will apparently follow the same strategy.
A DVD of Wrists, which comes paired with a zine about the production, is available here.
DISCLAIMER: A DVD copy of this film was provided by the production company for review.