It is a very common human characteristic to want certain things to last forever. Whether they are indeed inanimate objects, other individuals or less tangible concepts such as emotions, novelty value or states of mind – we would ideally hope that they don’t have to go away, wear off or gradually diminish. But is such an idea possible – can there truly be something with no expiration date? This short experimental film seeks to answer this question by means of visualizing such a conceptualization in a physical form: a can.
Even before the title of the film is presented, we are introduced to the overarching premise of 'Expiration Date': an ever-more-distant relationship between two individuals makes one of them visit an Amor store. It is here that he seeks to find a container that contains an infinitely-lasting love. He peruses the shelves in search of the one can that would fix everything – a can with no expiration date. This, however, proves to be a difficult endeavor.
The film combines an interesting setting with a thought-provoking subject, and the result is admirable, for certain. With his soft voice, the protagonist narrates through his search efforts and his train of thought and is accompanied by a minimalist soundtrack which fits the theme like a glove and becomes an adequate complement for the on-screen action. The color palette is equally well chosen and gives the project a distinctive vibe. It’s almost an 80s disco animated style, with a mix of pink and different shades of blue, while yellow plays an important part in other key areas of the film.
When it comes to the symbolic takeaways, however, the road is a bit less smooth for 'Expiration Date'. It does offer an intriguing discourse on the meaning and nature of love, in the perspective of the passing of time. The niche focus is welcome, but this somewhat limits the impact of the film’s message. Similarly, the narration is not too overburdening, which is certainly a big plus, but at times we had the feeling that it doesn’t exactly know what it wants to transmit and whether or not it has chosen the appropriate instruments to do so.
Certainly, there’s always going to be a non-negligible degree of subjectivity in how matters are interpreted, but 'Expiration Date' feels like it’s not making the most out of its potential at times.
If we had to compare 'Expiration Date' with a well-known production, we’d most likely choose Richard Linklater’s 'Waking Life'. Both use a somewhat similar visual style, are highly experimental in nature and revolve around the passing of time. However, while the latter’s style and a mix of elements are harmoniously blended to perfection, the project under review falls just short of such brilliance. It is, however, a very good short film that makes one think – and this is already a huge achievement. It is a promising piece of work from director Shwenn Shunya Chang, and we are certainly looking forward to more.