Bridges is one of those odd, 12-minute shorts that is so unsettling and ambiguous that you’re left begging for more when it ends. A consummate angler, filmmaker Christopher Jason Bell knows just how to hook and hold us— the ever-suspended inmate of his web of uneasiness.
Bridges is a two character babysitter tale, featuring young Elizabeth (Joslyn Jensen) keeping a mindful watch over Baby Julian (Julian Perez) in a dreary, brown-toned apartment. We never see Julian’s mother, Kara, but she does call in to tell Elizabeth not to expect her anytime soon. She also warns Elizabeth not to let in Ted, Julian’s presumed estranged father.
Bell is a master storyteller, using his camera as a stalking voyeur. This in itself creates discomfort, and makes us feel that we are peeking in on something that’s not our business. Over-extended takes on objects in the apartment—and on Elizabeth’s impassive face—create a disturbance, deep in our guts. This feeling of alarm strengthens, as we watch Elizabeth re-arrange the apartment that’s not hers, and refer to herself as “mommy,” when asking Julian to eat.
Bell’s camera focuses on people in the street, all secretly watching as Elizabeth carries Julian to the bridge overlooking the water. But it is that image of the child’s little hand, clutching the chain link fence from the bridge that recalls the dread of imprisonment, by something or someone, more sinister than we care to believe.
Christopher Jason Bell is definitely a filmmaker we should watch, since it’s obvious we’ll be hearing much more about him in the future.
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