We all know a Chameleon is a lizard that changes its exterior to safely blend into the environment. The term has extended to humans and refers to people who change their stripes to slide into whatever environment they are in. But in humans, the behavior is seen more opportunistically rather than what the actual definition says. Chameleons morph to please others and the ongoing struggle gets an emotionally satisfying telling in When Will The Chameleon Speak.
The 18 minute short written and directed by Lea Pfandler, and envisioned by the actresses below, follows three young woman who aim to please to their own detriment. Josephine (Maayan Amiran) is a dancer whose bound to her high steps by the will of her father, Bella (Rose Stoller) is a musician who believes her melodic talents must by societal definition include a lyrical proficiency and Sarah (Jamie Lazan) is an emerging writer who is saddled with an alcoholic mother. So she must satisfy the whims of her dysfunctional mother at any moment’s notice.
Thus, three separate lives are destined to intersect, and following their fragmented angst has us hoping for a cohesive thread. In one corner, Sarah has the words but the depth of her home life can never complete her story. Still, an ability to express herself does leave her more well adjusted, and Lazan’s performance shows us a person who can roll with the outside world – even though she’s hurting inside.
On the other hand, Bella can only express her pain through melody and unable to find the words as a musician reveals her primary distress. So at peace as she strums, Stoller tragically expresses the opposite with pen in hand and tears at the ready.
As for Josephine, her soul has been emptied out by her father, and the tap she does around life exudes no respite. The actual application goes even further. “Dad, the dancing causes me pain,” she pleads her case.
Set against the youthful uncertainty of their creative pursuits, all that’s needed is a collision course, and the college campus acts as the perfect conduit. The smallness that the Brendan Fahy Bequette cinematography suggests gives off an everybody knows everyone feel and infinite possibilities narrow to serve the film’s intended destiny.
But there’s no guarantee that the convergence will yield results, and the trio’s brief interactions are less than encouraging. The forces are too great, though, and with the Lazan lyrics evolving throughout and performed by Stoller, the film masterfully forces the drama to a crescendo.
So when this three-headed Chameleon finally speaks, you should listen to what she says about the way we relate to our environment.