REVIEW: Whisper [2014]

Score: 7/10 | ★ ★ ★

Rating: NR | Runtime: 6 minutes | Release Date: 2014 (France)
Studio: Artists’ Highway 1012
Director(s): Damien Kazan
Writer(s): Damien Kazan

“I wanna be an astronaut”

I receive a lot of unsolicited films from artists looking for reviews to help gauge audience acceptance, but Damien Kazan‘s short Whisper has to be the first from a director calling himself an “aspiring filmmaker”. It’s a small thing, but one steeped in modesty and excitement that I can’t stop myself from mentioning. Anyone who creates a film—no matter the scope of its distribution—is a filmmaker to me. Art in general is about the making and oftentimes we’re our own worst enemies as far as driving momentum to push our imagination and creativity out into the world. I’m sure Kazan feels the same, but his candor explaining where he’s coming from and what his goals still are go a long way towards his evolution as an artist. He knows he has work ahead and he’s ready.

What does this have to do with the film itself? A lot, I think. Such a mindset allows you to experiment—to try, fail, and keep going. You can see it in this silent piece (accompanied by Ukrainian Maria Rubel‘s compositions) depicting a ten-year old boy at a crossroads. Much like Kazan the artist finding the drive to create no-budget work and earn experience and expertise, this young kid (played by Matteo Kazan) is caught between his dream of becoming an astronaut and the reality of a series of “D” papers sent home from school for his parents to sign. Because it’s easy to crumple those fantasies up and accept the life of mediocrity our world deems us suited to languish within, any little thing reminding us to dust off and drive forward is critical.

Kazan utilizes a lot of close-ups and lens flare to put us into the boy’s room and into his fragile psyche. Launch chatter plays to portray his imagination as it drags him towards trying harder while cloudy fantasy puts him in a situation meant to stir his desire to one day get there. A weird mid-point transition arrives to start you wondering whether a tiny alien creature is going to come out from under his bed with words of wisdom and concrete evidence his career in space can be even cooler than he may presently believe, but it isn’t anything that distracts you from seeing the over-arching message about never quitting. And when science fiction movie posters, collector figurines, and astronomical charts surround your room to constantly reinforce that goal, inspiration is always close by.

Sometimes we need to be told what to do—to be better, work harder, stop wasting time. Sometimes outside interference only makes us more anxious and less inclined to try because failure is constantly being thrown in our faces. Coming to the decision ourselves helps us discover want it is we truly want. Watching this boy conjure images of blinding light and dreams of greatness shows just how important space is to his future. We all go adrift, constantly wondering if current trajectories are in fact where we want to go. The moments that bring us clarity aren’t always conventional or obvious, but you know them when they arrive. This boy may never be an astronaut—or want to be one in two year’s time—but he’ll be happy as long as he remembers that anything is possible.

Watch Whisper for yourself here.

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