Jakob Bilinski‘s last film, Shade of Grey (2009) was a well-crafted feature, compellingly approached, yet flawed by inexperienced acting in key roles. Bilinski has returned to the short film format with Obsolescence (2011), having considerably improved his craftsmanship, first and foremost in the acting. That is beneficial, because Obsolescence turns out as Bilinski’s best effort to date.
The seed of the idea for this psychological science fiction was inspired by Bilinski’s wife, Mackenzie. It was shot in L.A. on a minuscule budget with a two day shooting schedule and a meager cast of four. Far more often than not, guerrilla film-making methods such as these only lead to an execrable experience, but Bilinski is a conceptual artist who molds his gem with intelligence and style.
“Better never to have met you in my dream than to wake and reach for hands that are not there.”–Otomo No Yakamochi. This introductory quote aptly dissipates shortly before the opening view of an empyrean horizon, its composition dismantled by Bilinski’s feverish, frenzied camera—a sign of things to come. Nick (Scott Ganyo) is bathed in a bucolic landscape, but the deceptive harmony fails to mask a twitch.
Tess (Rosalind Rubin) is strapped to a chair in a desolate location. She is being held hostage by Nick. In lesser hands this would have been the predictable setup for an adolescent excuse to show a torture fest, but Bilinski and the superb Rubin invest kinetic, tense excitement into the conflict. Nick has poisoned Tess. Her salvation lies in information that Nick requires regarding the death of his wife, Annie (Jen Lilley). Rubin hypnotically conveys fear, frustration, and futile effort as she witnesses humanity slipping away from her captor, who is engulfed in grief. Nick’s ability to empathize trickles away like water into sewage. He is more fascinated than compassionate when the poison begin to take hold of Tess. Wracked with pain, Tess’ Continue reading OBSOLESCENCE (2011) & LETHAL OBSESSION (2010): THE POTENTIAL AND FAILURE OF INDEPENDENT FILM