A superb example of how to take a relatable feeling of tranquility and launch it into a surreal science fiction scenario, director Trish Harnetiaux’s short film You Wouldn’t Understand is a delightful, gorgeous-looking journey into the absurd.
A man (Anthony Arkin, who also performed editing duties) is enjoying a relaxing solo picnic and reading a book when he spies two people running in a field near him. The two disappear behind a hedge, and then one (Jacob A. Ware, who cowrote the screenplay with Harnetiaux) emerges, walking toward the man. The picnicking man — along with viewers — are wary of the situation.
The stranger, dressed in white, asks for a bottle of “horsey sauce” (which may or may not be the horseradish the picnicker happens to have) and then his manner of speech, statements, and actions get progressively weirder. I don’t want to give too much away here, so suffice it to say that the two men become involved in a classic science-fiction scenario, with a fresh, funny approach.
Arkin is great as the confused, bemused man who merely wanted to enjoy an afternoon outdoors to himself. His reactions to the stranger and his facial expressions are wonderful. Ware is also terrific as the stranger, who seems a little off with his exaggerated facial expressions and eagerness to talk.
Harnetiaux’s direction is super, using a wide range of shots, from beautiful wide and long shots of the idyllic setting to close-ups of the two men that help add to the nuttiness of the situation. All of these shots are captured splendidly by cinematographer John Gebhart.
The title fits viewers’ likely feelings to a certain degree because not everything is explained, but I prefer this short-and-sweet approach to a certain science fiction subgenre (no, I won’t give it away) to its often more convoluted entries, be they short-length or feature films — plus You Wouldn’t Understand adds the welcome element of comic insanity.
You Wouldn’t Understand screened as part of Screamfest, which ran from October 6–15.(4 / 5)