Chiang Fiorentini’s Beat Heart Break is an experimental exploration of relationship regrets. Isaiah (Tui Asau) finds himself at a crossroads, still pining over lost loves at the expense of his more recent relationships. Focusing in on the three past loves of his life, and ultimately obsessing on one, he decides to see what kind of relationship could be salvaged or rekindled, if any, considering he wasn’t honest about his true feelings at the time.
This short film, at the no man’s land length of 36 minutes (too long for a normal short film slot at a fest and too short to be a feature), isn’t terribly remarkable in its story. A man who can’t seem to make his current life work because he’s still hung up on his past, while one can relate, isn’t all that compelling. There are a few moments sprinkled in the short that lead you to think that he may be deluding himself. He may think he can’t love because he lost out on his real opportunities in the past when, really, he may just be a guy with commitment issues. That adds some emotional layers to the character, but it doesn’t necessarily make you care for him. What really saves this film, in the end, is its unique look.
According to the film’s website, the short “was shot, projected onto etched glass, then shot again. Mixing 16mm, digital video and 35mm slides into one seamless vision…” Such visual and production efforts definitely bring something more interesting to the table. While I didn’t imagine that much went into the look, I am all the more impressed with what I saw based on that information. Even that aesthetic, however, wears thin at its current running time.
Still, I can understand if an enormous amount of work goes into a project and the filmmaker lets it run a bit long; I always tend to favor the “short” aspect of short filmmaking, so there is a bit of a bias, but I do think, in this scenario, the film could be more powerful and more resonate at a shorter length. Give the audience something to ponder, dazzle them with the look and then get out before they put it under the microscope too long.
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