When we are about to embark on a film’s journey we, as an audience, have come to expect a familiar style in the way the story is told. Chris Esper turns that familiarity upside down for us with his short film IMPOSTER.
Almost completely silent of dialogue, Esper’s film is an artistic exploration of peoples internal struggles with debilitating anxiety.
Esper causes the audience to invest even more by the ambiguity of the film. Our wheels are turning trying to figure out who these characters are, who their counterparts are and what the film’s message really is.
A businessman Mike (Tom Mariano) nervously types on his keyboard at work. A young boy (Brenden Meehan) is dressed as a jester standing next to him. The young boy seems to represent the businessman at a time in his life when he was carefree and jovial. We step into his meeting and realize Mike is uncapable of even being there.
We are also introduced to an artist (Sheetal Kelkar) who is displaying her painting at a showing in an art gallery. Her nude counterpart (Jamie Braddy) stands side by side with her covered only by the painting. The interpretation is that she feels exposed. As her painting is ignored by the clientele, she takes her painting down off the wall and leaves.
The intimacy and isolation in the film is especially captured when the audience boards the bus with a group of passengers on their way home from their day. Each rider, including a military veteran (William DeCoff) who suffers with PTSD, is seated next to their younger/inner self. Esper gives us food for thought that even as simplistic as a bus ride home may seem, each person’s pain is hidden within. The final scene where the passengers exit the bus is a visual powerhouse. Esper makes an artistic choice that packs quite a punch.
Strong performances by this group of actors with the internal lives they created for their characters.
Score (Steven Lanning-Cafaro) added to the mood of the film but felt overpowering at times. “Listening” to more silent moments in the film could have added another layer – through stillness.
The scene in the art gallery felt too long. It was the same moment repeating itself for the audience – and was not moving the scene forward.
Esper’s film leaves the audience with a film to be individually interpreted. Some may love the ambiguity of it – some might not understand it. His unique artistry in telling this story makes it feel deeply personal.
Filmmakers who explore powerful topics to educate and inform their audiences are important for what they teach us. Esper – is one of those filmmakers.