“Clyde” is a five-minute black-and-white student film in which a homeless New York man babbles about himself and his world while he is being shaved on a street corner by a friend. The eponymous character was originally from New Orleans and his glory days came as a lifeguard in his youth, but for the past two decades he’s struggled to live in New York and has been homeless for too many years.
There isn’t much in the way of coherent narration in “Clyde.” Trains of thought chug off into vague directions, with some comments on how the New York police stopped harassing homeless people after the September 11 attacks followed by an out-of-nowhere comment like “How can a person care more about an animal more than a human?” At no time is it explained why Clyde is being shaved on the street, or where his barber-pal is able to plug in the extension cord for electric razor used to trim his beard.
Filmmaker Mans Mansson gives the film a stark and handsome visual style, but sadly he neglected to pay attention to the sound recording; the muffled whistle of wind blowing into his microphone is plainly audible throughout the film. And when the sound of the wind gets more attention from the viewer than the narration by the film’s central focus, you know there is a problem at hand.