Director: Chris Hallas
Screenwriter: Chris Hallas
Starring: Tom Loone, Claire Marlein
Fate (2016), directed by Chris Hallas, is an interesting take on modern society’s affliction with technology and our culture of sharing, which aims to blend the potentially romantic aspects of our modernity with the ultimately dangerous aspects, creating a well constructed cautionary tale pushed each step of the way by its meritorious screenplay.
Perhaps the most laudable aspect of the entire movie is its dialogue, which seems uncomfortable in settling for convenience and instead uses the often confrontational and questioning nature of everyday human conversation to play off the oppositions in the two characters’ desires and create an intelligent naturalistic series of conversational exchanges that push the narrative forward with a real subtlty that is beyond many of its contemporaries. Tom Loone and Claire Marlein must, of course, be commended for their performances in this respect, too, for they embody those they are written to play and at no stage seem forced outside of their ordinary conversational habits. Their performances therefore seem more real than one might expect from a film with such low funding, which only helps to elevate the impressiveness of the dialogue and creates a real intrigue regarding the awaiting twist.
It seems that the movie’s entire purpose was to have audiences questioning the sincerity behind the characters’ motivations in the opening scenes, especially regarding the male lead. Hallas and his cinematographer chose to work in such hints through the movements in the camera and editorial, making the movie’s twist more of a reveal than anything too shocking. In one respect, this was unfortunate for Fate, as the cautionary nature of the story demanded that the reveal come with the telling of the isolated obsessiveness of the movie’s featured antagonist as well as the unveiling of his long-gestated plan. This created a scenario whereby a large portion of the film was without the dialogue that had become such a strong feature of the picture’s opening sequences and was instead replaced by a melancholic acoustic song that didn’t quite work to illustrate the more dangerous aspects of what was being portrayed on the screen. In truth, the song helped to create an uneasy feeling of sympathy for the lovelorned character which, while being interesting as a commentary on how easy it is to descend into madness in the modern age where our life stories are so easily accessed via Facebook, didn’t seem appropriate given the backdrop of more typically insane acts such as the antagonist printing pictures of the heroine to stick on his wall.
It is within this sequence that director Chris Hallas seems most at peace however, with some of his better camera work occurring at this time. The sequence revolves around mini reveals of the antagonist’s past with the film’s unknowing protagonist, and upon the first reveal Hallas chooses to move the camera across its line of sight to establish a new angle on the antagonist’s face, illustrating with the camera the same emotion felt by the audience; showing us a different side to the man than we had previously seen. This was a stroke of mastery that has also been seen in the short film classic ‘The Candidate’ (2010), which is certainly one of the more complimentary comparisons to make to any short film, and was delivered with immaculate timing and technical prowess. Similarly as impressive are the shots sequenced in the following moments as each of them works to illustrate the ultimately isolating oppression that can occur through our heavy reliance on technology. The antagonist’s living space is all-but bare, with the colours of the scene almost entirely absent. Social media posts and a message box to the character’s love interest take over the shot, illustrating how occupying the thought of her is within the character’s head. It is immersive cinema whereby every piece of the puzzle is working to create the same vision of its themes and story, and while the choice to centre so much of the picture on the ultimately wrongdoing character does seem like a strange one, there remains a host of massive upsides to the overall construction and presentation of this movie.
What this low budget short film managed to establish in 15 minutes is quite extraordinary given its relatively tiny list of cast and crew that equated to only 20 people. Fate is a movie that has faultless lighting, an intriguing narrative, some excellent camera decisions and some delightfully naturalistic dialogue that lifts the whole piece to new levels, so while there are some things that could be ironed out, it seems that Hallas, Loone and Marlein could be in for promising futures in the industry, and I certainly wish them all the best in this regard.
The film was an official selection at the Cinematic Arts Film Festival in Los Angeles in 2016 despite having only 20 members of its cast and crew.