Harlan (Pascal Yen-Pfister) is a photographer with the photographer’s equivalent of ”writer’s block”.
He lacks inspiration in his work as of late. He needs something fresh and vital to shoot, so he decides to get personal and begins taking pictures of his wife (Rhea Sandstrom) in poses that are very personal. These are poses that may perhaps show a vulnerable side to her. Perhaps he’s striving to capture her essence, to see her as he has never seen her before? To understand her better? Perhaps it will inspire Harlan to take his work to a new level?
These are questions that I wished writer / director Chai Dingari addressed in his new 13 minute short film The Misogynist, a competently made film visually, but a confusing piece on the page that doesn’t quite know what it wants to be.
On one hand, Dingari’s film wants to be an exploration of the artist and what makes the artist tick, which would have been interesting, but as the film stands now, we never see enough of the artists’ struggles…internal or external. We get brief glimpses of Harlan’s struggle in two scenes with his agent W.D. Frost (Timothy J. Cox), but the scenes are too brief to ignite interest in Harlan or his plight.
Instead, the film takes a turn to psychological thriller when Harlan’s wife discovers that she is the focus of Harlan’s work and when she protests, Harlan kills her. One can only assume that he commits this act because of his struggles and attempts to find that perfect thing to shoot are unsuccessful, so he has lost grip with reality, but we never see Harlan’s descent into madness. In the end, the whole affair proved to be more than a little confusing.
I don’t fault Mr. Dingari for his efforts here, as he is not an untalented filmmaker. There are a number of striking visual flourishes in his film, but I will say that on this effort, he proved to be a filmmaker who simply tried to inject too much into a 13 minute film. If I fault Mr. Dingari on anything, it would be on the title of the film, which I found a little baffling. To me, the title didn’t match the action that was taking place in the film.
As for the performances, Rhea Sandstrom seemed lost in her role as Harlan’s wife. She and Pascal Yen-Pfister as Harlan, lacked chemistry in their scenes as husband and wife. By himself, Mr. Yen-Pfister was an appropriately brooding presence, but the script doesn’t give him enough to do to explore his inner struggles as an artist further. Timothy J. Cox brought a nice, cynical touch to his very brief role as the agent Frost, but the script has him coming off more ”father confessor” than agent.
The Misogynist is available for viewing here http://vimeo.com/36390095.
For additional information on the film, please visit the film’s IMDB page here http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2140569/
by Robert Carey Wilson