Dances With Films: Klutz. & A Good Couple
Premiering on Saturday, September 4th at Los Angeles’s Dances With Films, Michelle Bossy's Klutz. treads a well-worn path, relying on sensational composition and an incisive score from Estelle Bajou to elevate this gem of a festival short. Klutz. focuses its gaze on grief, looking closely through the kaleidoscope of sci-fi. It’s a creative use of genre from Bossy and writer Elizabeth Narciso, using the recent rise in grief-centered horror and a dread-invoking mise-en-scéne to set viewers up for more of the same, before subverting those expectations with a shift toward the more fantastical.
Klutz. has a simple premise: every time Zowie (Malka Wallick) falls down, the momentary slice in the fabric of gravity makes her recently deceased sister reappear to her. The film draws a fine line between grief-driven projections and genuine astral miracles, never trying to convince us that it’s one or the other, and in the process firmly establishing that it might not matter why this is happening. Wallick and Mara Kassin, playing her sister Lida, have a natural chemistry in their few scenes together. The script has so many ideas that it’s forced to be on the nose at times (it only runs 14 minutes), but its strongest moments are those without words - Bossy's lens capturing the emptiness of Zowie's life through brilliant framing. These show the power that a film can pack in just a few moments.
Also premiering at Dances with Films is writer-director Robert Gregson's A Good Couple, bowing on Wednesday, September 1st. A chilling entry in this year’s festival, A Good Couple finds terror in the uncanny, and Gregson has a knack for shifting things just enough off-kilter to send tingles down your spine. Following Julia (Julie Ann Earls) as she slowly comes to realize that her suddenly flawless boyfriend might be too good to be true, A Good Couple turns an overly melodramatic opening scene into a taut, magnificently paced thriller that will dig underneath your skin and sit there for days after you leave the theater.
A Good Couple opens on an explosive argument - one that’s so well-staged, you almost miss how unfortunately on-the-nose it is. The film needs to dispatch with this bit of set-up to get to its genre-infused core, and as it moves toward its unsettling climax, Earls takes control with the sort of inside-out performance that should make those in the industry sit up and take note. The film uses reflections with aplomb - finding strong purpose in its most creative shots in a way that underlines the maturity of its filmmaker. After a careening sprint to its climax, A Good Couple takes a step back for its haunting final shot. Instead of pummeling us, it leaves us to ponder the implications, and to ask ourselves what we might sacrifice for the ideal partner. It’s the perfect grace note.