DIRECTED BY: Matt Mulholland
FEATURING: Matt Mulholland
PLOT: A depressed cabaret singer and sometime mime, overwhelmed by the pressures of
life and loneliness, contemplates suicide and drifts off into a symbolic abyss of despair.
WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: As devastating a portrait of human despair as has ever been painted, on a canvass black as velvet, this poison break-up letter to a cruel world from an embittered heart compresses into a mere three minutes an agony that it would take a lesser artist four minutes or even more to convey.
COMMENTS: The nameless singer, dressed in black, observes the camera from a skewed angle, indicating his unwillingness to face the world head on anymore. Alone, he sings of the pressures of ordinary life, but as the tension and anxiety build, a doppelgänger (who will later moph into a trippelgänger) appears. The ghastly mirror image both harmonizes with, and mocks, the protagonist as he agonizes over paralyzing alternatives, eternally unable to choose (“which one can I take?”). The minimalist set dissolves into a series of melancholy reminiscences; the dateless singer hanging his head in front of the mirror (the recurrence of the doppelgänger motif); he stands trapped in on a traffic island, his black garb blending into the surrounding darkness as unheeding humanity rushes by him in both directions (more dualities); he holds his head in his hands as, utterly alone, he kills off a bottle of Ballantine’s; he hangs his head in dejection as he stares hopelessly at the wall. Mysterious images are interspersed into these reveries: running water (shades of Tarkovsky here, with an urban update); the bright lights of the teeming city intruding on his solitude, taunting him; a clock ticking down to an unstated but ominous deadline; glass shattering like a broken will (the deadline arives—the time for reflection is over). In the finale the singer, now a mime, poses in front of the Void itself, trapped in an invisible box before Eternity. Flakes of white drift through the Stygian abyss like fragments of exploded angels. As masterfully affecting as these images are, without the searingly aware lyrics—written by a young postfeminist poetess to explore the ironic dualities of spirited youth versus weary wisdom, and of abandoned Dionysian collectivism versus painful Apollonian self-reflection—without such sure, knowing narration, the project would have come off as corny, weepy and bathetic. Instead, it is a spiritually acute and devastating portrait of how having nowhere to go on Friday night inevitably leads to a loss of faith in life itself.