REVIEW: A Single Life [2014]

Score: 9/10 | ★ ★ ★ ½

Rating: NR | Runtime: 2 minutes | Release Date: 2014 (Netherlands)
Director(s): Marieke Blaauw, Joris Oprins & Job Roggeveen
Writer(s): Marieke Blaauw

This film is delightful. Not only does it have a catchy titular song playing throughout (a Happy Camper ditty featuring Pien Feith), but A Single Life also possesses a wonderfully simple premise in order for its paltry two-minute runtime to deliver so much more than you would expect. Enter a solitary woman readying for an evening alone with some pizza when a mysterious package containing a vinyl record with invaluable power arrives. The groove set underneath the needle isn’t merely a journey from beginning to end of the music it holds, though, it’s also a metaphorical depiction of the listener’s lifespan. A revelatory discovery for her and us, the inherent imperfection of its medium delivers some unforeseen consequences.

When I say medium I mean that of the vinyl from inside the short, not the cutesy form of computer animation Job, Joris & Marieke wield. No, the charm infused visuals that the Netherland trio utilizes would bring a smile to your face regardless of plot or comedy. The plasticity to the hyper-real caricature lends an air of collectable figurine whimsy only matched by the story’s inventive use of its time traveling gimmick. Every changed position of the record player’s arm transports us to a different point in the past or future of Pia’s life with her always found in the same position with something new placed in her hands to replace what might have been there previously. And every skipped transition remains in-sync with the music.

Job Roggeveen, Joris Oprins, and Marieke Blaauw could have taken their central conceit in many directions, but they thankfully took the avenue with the highest potential of laughter despite some probably finding the result unnecessarily dark in its humor. That doesn’t mean there aren’t also welcome flourishes of childhood memory or the joy of motherhood—it simply explains the boldness needed to take a joke to its logical completion with a cut to black you don’t think they’ll actually deliver until its punch line begins. We realize the stakes of what’s happening the exact second Pia does and that infinite moment of breathless suspense brilliantly concludes with the grandest laugh of all. As the song says: “The ending is inevitable.” It is indeed.

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