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By Alan Ng | November 20, 2019

A man (Chalvar Montiero) lays alone in a bathtub in isolation. The window is open, with only the sounds of rain falling. With a slow drip from the tub’s faucet, we are transported to an empty, cold, stone corridor, and the man dances…he moves in Jonathan Nelson’s short film Tears, based on the poem of the same name by Walt Whitman.

Cinematically, Tears is a wonderful and artistic short film following Montiero as he glides smoothly and effortlessly down a long, stone corridor. It is backlit with a bright white background that transitions to a light purple as the piece moves forward. And in this one-shot, Montiero moves along a water-soaked floor as the camera moves backward in sync with his journey. The short is visually stunning and lit brilliantly, giving the impression that light emanates from the walls without revealing how.

“…the man dances…based on the poem of the same name by Walt Whitman.”

In fairness, this is how a film critic sees interpretive dance and art. I can only tell you what I see on the screen, how it makes me feel, and how effective director Nelson’s chosen film techniques were used to convey its message. In short, I don’t know much about modern dance, but I do know this is a simple, yet powerful short, brilliantly performed by Chalvar Montiero. His poetic movements are fluid and effortless, using his body language to bring forth true emotion. Nelson’s cinematography only enhances the piece and never distracts. I love what I saw. I’ll leave the interpretation to the experts.

It’s always a joy to watch something new like Tears, and short films are a great way to expose me (and you) to the subject matter and art forms that are way out of my wheelhouse.

Tears (2019)

Directed and Written: Jonathan Nelson

Starring: Chalvar Monteiro, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Tears Image

"…movements are fluid and effortless, using his body language to convey feeling."

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