Review: Incognita

Directed by Asha Rosemond and co-written with Brielle Carroll, Ben Park (Sean Kneese) is a young adjunct teacher, who’s expecting his first child with his loving wife. He gets taken by surprise when a student at his new school, Trevor (Phil Kramer) reveals something to him that will change his life forever. Also starring: Timothy J. Cox and Nedra Shamberger.

Trying to fit a story such as this into a 10-minute time frame, is an enormous task and especially for a filmmaker in their formative years, discovering their style but where so many try to force an entire feature into those few moments, Rosemond and Carroll keep it simple. Simple really is the name of the game here, it was the best option available to them and they made the right choice, trying to explore all of the emotions involved would have made for an over-stuffed and insincere film, whereas they create something that’s not overly emotional or overly intensified, it’s gentle and understated.

The choice of setting in the college was another smart move, it was somewhere readily available to them and is a classic location in film so it automatically adds a layer of authenticity, although it does make you wonder if American colleges really do still use blackboards. We’re then introduced to Professors Park (Kneese) and Phillips (Cox), the latter having a nice air of authority through his typical academic manner and tweed jacket, he’s very much the type of character you can see knowing the history of the college and always trying to tell it to whoever will listen. Park on the other hand doesn’t give too much away, he makes a couple of jokes to break the ice but you don’t get too much of a sense of his personality. Although as the story progresses and he learns that his wife is expecting their first child, with his response rather lacking in excitement, tells us a lot more, it gives you enough of an insight to get a read on him. That moment then perfectly sets up Trevor’s revelation and leads Ben to question some of his views and while there’s only the briefest of times to explore that massive change in his life, it does get the point across.

There are a couple of issues, firstly the score in the earlier moments is somewhat problematic as without knowing the secret to be revealed, it feels as though he might confess his love for the professor, as the music has a more romantic feel, though given what he actually reveals, that would be very awkward. There’s also a moment or two where the characters aren’t quite in focus. As well as the ratio of how the time is used, it might have added more weight if a larger chunk of the time was spent on Ben after the revelation and his gradual change of heart, time which could have been taken from cutting shorting the beginning or end a little shorter, which didn’t require as much. Some instances perhaps also come across as a little oversimplified but the intention and message are still there.

Overall, the filmmakers did well with the limited time that they had to portray this story because admittedly it’s one that would really need a much more dedicated amount of time to do justice to but the style they chose effectively achieves what they set out to do and that’s the most important factor. It was an ambitious choice and it’s done in a way that moves smoothly and delicately throughout, so it doesn’t necessarily hit you hard with its impact but it’s sweet and simple.

Verdict: ✯✯✯

Make your own verdict by checking out the film below!

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