“We’re two cops in the hood, man”
For a crowdfunded French short shot in two days on only a $1,500 budget, In Da Street looks fantastic. This shouldn’t be surprising coming from writer/director Damien Kazan—a filmmaker whose last work Whisper was nothing if not an attractive visual poem. Building on that film’s stylistic construction, this actioner follows a pair of cops on their beat with plenty of image-based stimulation. His non-descript Spanish-speaking locale (at least to an American like me) provides a hot afternoon of girls in bikinis and cigar-smoking old-timers to distract a local officer (Ryad Baxx) and his French partner (Stephen Scardicchio) until a gunshot erupts into chaos.
Kazan is at his best when shooting emotional drama as his keenly edited aesthetic juxtaposed against Jacob Cadmus‘ score enhances the weight of each situation displayed. His use of slomotion, color shifts from full to black and white to full again, and time shifting cuts help create a mood above what it is we’re actually watching. However, by augmenting a complete story this time around—Whisper was a few minutes in the mind of a child sifting through memories and dreams—I wonder if perhaps 13-minutes was too short a duration to do it justice. Because while we understand the theme of brotherhood depicted through visual and aural clues, the story itself feels incomplete.
We don’t know these two men besides a few funny anecdotes shared in English and telling dialogue explaining how neither knows a lick of the other’s native tongue. The crime perpetrated by a hooded man (Kim Kazuyah) out-of-the-blue therefore provides one more distraction rather than a meaningful progression of plot. The cops weren’t following him or expecting bloodshed, they’re simply reacting. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as what comes out of the chase proves an exhilarating ride of powerful emotion, but without caring for either man as more than a chess piece being moved leaves something to be desired. It becomes Baxx’s enraged performance that makes me care about their survival, not an allegiance to them as characters.
With that said, my enjoyment despite this distance shows how good the rest is. Starting the film with its dramatic peak before traveling back to what transpired beforehand gets our blood pumping; close-up collages of religious charms, Pierre Santino‘s coarse stoicism under the sun, and a voyeuristic gaze at the women passing by pulls us into the scene; and the pace transition from conversation-heavy humor to adrenaline rush foot chase is orchestrated to perfection. Increase the runtime to show why Baxx and Scardicchio are together along with a glimpse at why Kazuyah would kill a man doing nothing in broad daylight and I might be able to accept the ending’s well-dressed fast-forward as more than a neatly tied bow.
Watch In Da Street for yourself here.