Eli Hart’s short film, Regulars, is the story of two chess rivals at a storefront of some sort about to engage in battle. Regular 1 (Zachary Hart) sits down at a small table for two and meticulously sets up his wood chessboard. He lays out the pieces and, with cloth, wipes the board of dust and smudges off a few pieces.
His friend, Regular 2 (Gabriel Lo Giudice), sits down across from him, and Regular 2 draws the white piece to go first. After his first move, the intensity and drama, we know and love about chess, begin.
Regulars full runtime clocks in at six minutes, and there’s not much I can say without spoiling 80% of the short. While Hart’s film is fascinating to watch, it lands a punch line at the end. Like most jokes, you can never unhear it; instead, you’ve got to tell it to others.
“…two chess rivals at a storefront about to engage in battle…”
With barely a word uttered, Regulars is a brief commentary on the culture of chess and how it can build camaraderie and companionship through competition. It also has something to say about the strategic nature of the game as well. With every move, there are dozens of possible directions to go with hundreds of thousands of moves to consider to avoid loss and come out victorious. These themes are captured beautifully in the physical performance of Hart and Giudice. It’s all there in their eyes and physicality.
Eli Hart gets right to the point with Regulars. If you’re like most people, you want a well-defined ending—one that sticks its landing. If you’re looking for a nice tight finish, you won’t get it. It’s not a bad ending, but it’s may leave you feeling incomplete. Understand, though; you’re here for the journey. Short and sweet.
"…has something to say about the strategic nature of the game..."