Evidence of Existence, 2012.
Written and Directed by Adam El-Sharawy and Alex Frois.
Starring Caroline Davies, Adem Duman, James el-Sharawy and Luke Jenkins.
A multiple narrative drama, that examines the human condition and the desire within people to find place in the world.
In the beginning of Evidence of Existence, two actors stuck in a low budget production talk about their plan of getting out and getting big by creating a miracle on a video camera. Of course, being two people with a camera doesn’t guarantee the miracle comes to fruition, and everything in fact does go wrong. It’s in that vaguely ironic vain that I watched this movie, as Adam El-Sharawy and Alex Frois bring us a film that, like the actors intended video, is just another amateur production to be played out every so often by someone on YouTube.
I confess I didn’t have high hopes for the film when it was described as ‘multi-narrative’. ‘Multi-narrative’ (which I put in between little bits of sarcastic punctuation), to me, means a bunch of short stories that are ruined when they’re linked for no dramatic reason. Coincidence on it’s own doesn’t lend dramatic weight. I know I sound like Robert McKee in Adaptation, but audiences want to see a beginning, middle and end. Foreshadowing and the like. It sounds cliché, but that’s only because they work in the right hands. Having completely separate stories and linking them just because isn’t smart or deep. It just cheapens whatever came before.
So what did come before? Well, there’s the aforementioned actors trying to make it big. There’s a henchman who doubts what he’s doing. A director who refuses to find the time to respect fans off the street, and has even less time for reporters. And a man who seems to fear anything outside his tiny flat.
The problem is, even with the potential these scenarios give, every character sounds the same. Having a character spout existential drivel from their mouths would be fine, because that’s the character. Having every character at one point or another do it is evidence enough that the screenwriters perhaps haven’t found out how to provide their characters with separate voices. The worse crime is that dialogue that’s supposed to make the viewer think about life and ideas and everything in between actually made me tune out. It’s like the directors read a couple of books on philosophy and copied the bits that sounded interesting onto the page. If other movies are original ideas (or as original as can be, anyway), Evidence of Existence is that yuppie Matt Damon tells off in Good Will Hunting.
Like seeing a piece of art by Banksy, the quoting of a law of thermodynamics after the credits would probably make a viewer think ‘Yeah, that’s quite smart, probably an interesting link to the film’ until they actually think about it for a moment and conclude the directors just took two smart ideas and tried linking them together in order to make the audience feel impressed.
Performances didn’t help matters. Apart from the man in the bar who takes a comic stance concerning the day’s newspapers, everyone is played in a boring monotone. The henchman who has doubts about his work and attempts to redeem himself speaks exclusively in monotone mumble. It doesn’t help that during the only visually interesting scene (where his doubts about life are shown on screen along with other images I’m sure mean… something) he tells the audience how he feels, as opposed to letting the acting do the work.
But speaking of that scene, wherein a kidnapped woman is tied to a chair and left in a flat. The scene’s quality stands out purely because it got my attention back, and it contained CGI much superior to later scenes. It showed that while lacking the ability to communicate an idea simply through imagery, the directors certainly don’t lack ambition or confidence. Hopefully, as this is only their second feature, they learn and create better stories in the future.
The rest of the movie, however, was presented through a messy sort of filter. While the stories are a little grungy in tone, at times the visuals were too monotonous and dirty, colours blending into one another until most of the images meld into one. And it didn’t help a reporter who was labelled as ‘at the scene’ was seemingly trying to trick his employers by using a green screen to present news on an explosion as well as the weather.
Overall, this film can’t shake off the pretentiousness of the subject matter and make it interesting. Some off kilter cutting techniques and some occasionally nice visuals show the ambition and potential of the filmmakers, but this is a movie I’d avoid as they’re not enough to rescue it from unearned grandiosity and status.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★
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