Humans are social creatures, which is primarily why we build our lives amongst one another in such high concentrations. However, just because we are surrounded by people, that doesn’t mean we actually relate to any of them. This can lead to a seemingly endless succession of fast encounters and relationships in which we hold little value. Even while people who are considerably more on the fringes of society have found ways of banding together, there still exist those so detached from and cynical about their fellow humans that even these possibilities seem slim and pointless. Tristan Scott-Behrends has taken this concept and pumped a fascinating level of style into Only Trumpets, a story of one man’s attempts to find a meaningful encounter in a sea of unceremonious sex and superficial attachment in the new digital age of dating.
Guided by the protagonist Tristan (Xavier Jimenez-March) as he waxes philosophical on his continuous repetition of nameless flings — from twinks, jocks, leather daddies, bears, and cam boys — we witness his encounter with an elegant man (Daniel Crook) at a nightclub, and how it leads him to believe his alienation from his surroundings might not be as permanent as he once thought. This ten-minute short is bolstered by its darkly comical screenplay, an extremely bold color palette, music video-esque editorial flairs, neon and disco ball lighting, and an ending brimming with melancholic sincerity.
“…one man’s attempts to find a meaningful encounter in a sea of unceremonious sex…”
Though this film is devoted to its depiction of finding love within the modern gay community (a detail affirmed by Scott-Behrends at a Q&A at the 2019 Maryland Film Festival), the story is still so highly resonate, its central themes can be applied to numerous individuals. Ebbing and flowing from existential nightmare to “a very true queer fairytale,” this wild ride manages to hit a surprising amount of emotional peaks in fairly brisk order, and never once relents on its unique voice.
Equal parts dream, memory, and late-night rant, Only Trumpets is a stunning example of not only sublime sardonic storytelling but a perfect marriage of style and substance. Whether relating to the scoffing sentimentality of the protagonist or drawn in by the bold artistic directions in which we experience the world and minds of these characters, the film is equally entertaining as it can be emotionally satisfying. There is something absolutely singular and stunning about this film that I have never seen elsewhere, and it bodes incredibly well for the future of the filmmakers.
Only Trumpets (2018) Written and Directed by Tristan Scott-Behrends. Starring Xavier Jimenez-March, Daniel Crook, Lucienne Aeon, Erik Conradi, Mathew Dunlop.
9 out of 10