Review: Denial

Directed by Mackenzie Leigh Barmen and co-directed and written by lead actor Misti Dawn Garritano, who plays half of happily (?) married couple that we follow throughout an everyday couple hours of their life, with her husband played by Timothy J. Cox.

With this being a 3-minute film, it limits how much you can really say about it without spoiling it but there are still several elements to discuss, starting with its direction. The film opens on a handheld shot following Garritano as she walks through the house, granted it would have been difficult, expensive and unnecessary to go in another direction but that doesn’t change that it works extremely, pulls you in, keeps an intimate air to this two person films and gets your attention. Another more innovative choice is to have Garritano in the kitchen and repeatedly showing the microwave to detail the passing of time, again it’s something that works well, the only real issue is that the time passing is over half an hour and she seems to be eating the same sandwich the entire time so either she ate several or she’s a ridiculously slow eater.

The writing has its ups and downs, the set up is clever, it pushes the audience into the frame of mind that it wants so that it can manipulate it down the road which is an impressive thing to accomplish in 3-minutes. It starts off from that very first interaction of Cox and Garritano passing at the top of the stairs and sets off that seed of doubt to whether their marriage is a happy one or not. The rest of the writing entirely hinges on the last scene and while the idea itself was great (no spoilers), the timing could have been better executed, there needed to be an extra pause of explanation before the reveal to make sure that audiences are hit with the revelation effectively, and it feels like it doesn’t make the impact that it should. It’s still a relatively satisfying ending but a little adjustment to the timing could have potentially opened it up for something stronger.

Garritano and Cox’s roles don’t have a lot of dialogue, which in such a short amount of time, gives them less of an opportunity to make an impression so the focus is really on how they work as a couple. Thankfully, they’re a convincing couple from the get go so their jobs are set, they get an opportunity to show their skills a little more in the end and they achieve exactly what’s needed, with a few inflections to push the point across.

Perhaps the only stand out choice is the music, it’s a bassoon like tune which feels reminiscent of murder mysteries in the 70’s, if you’ve ever watched Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected, it will feel very familiar. Given that the story is more comedy-drama it was an usual choice, it ends things on a bizarre note but doesn’t really affect the film overall.

Overall, Denial shows a number of skills and strong talent, it could use a couple of tweaks to hit the final note with a bang but it does still achieve what it set out to do and does so in a way that’s clever and entertaining. For a 3-minute film it accomplishes more than expected and it’s definitely intriguing to see what else these filmmakers have up their sleeves.  

Verdict: ✯✯✯½ | 7/10

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