The Covid-19 pandemic is inevitably inspiring for filmmakers and artists. The world stopped for a moment and allowed creative individuals to work on their passion projects, realizing along the way that genuine projects are the ones that arouse from loneliness and solitude. The short film that we review today, titled Distance, by the talented filmmaker Richard Schertzer, results from commitment, profoundness, and attention to detail.
Distance takes place in an alternate Earth reality in 2149. Bonnie Whitmore is desperately searching for her son Kyle amid the chaos. She is hiding out in the woods, struggling to navigate. However, Bonnie’s quest takes an unexpected turn when a stranger approaches her. His hidden intentions are ill-prepared, but in those moments of trust, Bonnie sees a silver lining.
It’s challenging to establish a futuristic world because it’s time exhausting, yet the auteur finds a creative solution for that – opening credits that give precise information on the backstory and context. As a result, the world in question becomes known, and all we need to do is sit back and enjoy the experience.
Distance is essentially atmosphere-driven. There’s constant tension not only from the juxtaposition of the two characters, especially the intimidating stranger, but the static shots of the sky and the woods. These shots are undoubtedly poetic, but the filmmaker achieves the goal to maintain the unsettling tone even there. That happens because of the sound, which plays an equal role as the moving pictures. True filmmakers value the power of sound. In Distance, the underlying tones use repetition and are minimalistic in their subtlety.
Consequently, the walking part and vibrant transitions become ever so engaging. The progress from point A to point B happens around the midpoint, and it takes enough screening time to break the second act into the third. The suspense increases, and so are our expectations. The last confrontation escalates with the scarf, the MacGuffin device that serves as the heroine's epiphany. It's at this moment that Bonnie discovers the stranger's motives. She is forced to become a murderer, which is a natural change in her character. Having the protagonist change within a short time is indeed fascinating.
The ending shot is a tilt camera movement that shows the city landscape for the first time. In contrast to the opening images, which were static and had cuts, the final shot is tilting steadily. We witness the protagonist running into the vastness, thinking of whether the forest or the city is the most dangerous setting in this alternate reality.
The special effects and cinematography are convincing, yet it’s invaluable to note that the cast’s performance is on the highest level. The leading roles are indeed skilled and master various verbal expressions and body language, but that's also a great job done by the director. Barely anything worthy is achieved without proper directions, so we can safely state that we expect great things from Schertzer as a director and natural storyteller.
In conclusion, Schertzer provides us with a manifest for the current times dedicated to future film students. Being an aspiring one himself, it's an absolute pleasure to recognize the potential and the beginning of signature filmmaking that Schertzer possesses as a complete auteur.