Jean is short film that revolves around a struggling writer who has an actress visit him wanting to help him write. But there’s a catch…
Tonally, at first, it felt like it was going to be a thriller. He hears a knock on his shower door and it’s revealed to be a girl. When we are introduced to her at first, it feels like she’s going to end up being the writer’s significant other. Turns out she’s not, she’s just an actress who has written him a letter and she keeps referencing it, even though he hasn’t read or received said letter. That’s where the tone caught me off guard because it forces us for a split second to ask ourselves: who is this woman? How did she get in this stranger’s house? And most importantly… Why is he not freaking out like anybody else would? If the filmmakers kept the thriller-vibe, it would have peaked my interest of the movie by a long shot. The stakes would have been raised and the twist at the end would have been more rewarding. But because there’s a tonal shift to a drama of sorts with every time the two characters interact with each other, it becomes less tense and more flat. It needs to be consistent throughout.
The writing fails to become believable only because the reaction of the characters aren’t super realistic, and it’s hard to see the reactions as the camera focuses on one character or the other by following them. If a stranger walks into your house and interrupts you while you shower, are you going to be calm and ask “who are you?” or would you be more chaotic? The actress’s own intention is mish-mashed as she seems borderline obsessed with this writer (back to the thriller-vibe), yet at the end he totally trusts her after only meeting her a couple minutes before. What exactly are his intentions then? These answers come up and are never answered which makes the short feel a little incomplete.
The short is all one take, which is super admirable as they’re hard to pull off (I love “oners” personally). That being said, it was a little off-putting, because when you do a “oner”, one expects there to be a lot of commotion from the actors and for them to be doing something that’s actually interesting and crazy, and not having a mundane conversation that doesn’t raise the stakes by any means. It felt almost lazy with this piece only because it seems like this was supposed to be a fun-“go get it tiger!”-piece by the end. There should have been more cuts and more angles, and that would allow a variety of ways to go about this rather than pulling off a oner. I do like the reveal of the twist though, and I think a long take is appropriate for that, but not for the whole short itself.
After watching this, it made me curious to see what else this director and cinematographer are capable of doing with the camera in their other works. I have a feeling they can pull something extraordinary off in future projects if they really focus on characters and atmosphere.