Jon Salimes’ short film Easier for Girls opens with a cream-colored wall dripping with blood until loud, hardcore punk-style music interrupts the silence. If that doesn’t get your attention, little will, but the film then settles into scenes of a woman (Grace DeWolff) at the waterside, walking through the woods, cleaning the bathroom, taking out the trash and doing the laundry. Fairly mundane activities, sure, but if you were paying attention to the opening, there’s obviously something going on here.
This only gets underlined when she hands off a cooler filled with something, receives an envelope one would assume is full of money, and then returns to her apartment to start working on cutting her hair off. We are then treated to a police officer awkwardly stammering his way through the crime scene details and reports of various murder victims. Not surprisingly, hacked-up bodies in trash bags is mentioned more than once, and the routine activities of the film’s heroine are cast in a very different light.
My issues with Easier for Girls are not so much the predictability of it all; again, if you’re paying attention to the fierce opening you’re already guessing that something untoward is going on. Instead, there just doesn’t seem to be much, if any, story involved here. There’s hints at an undercurrent of illicit business being conducted regarding the victims, but that raises more questions than it answers. What we basically have is a setting, a character and then exposition that fleshes out our main character a bit.
You’re pretty much left to focus on the technical merit, and there the film is very “meh.” It’s obviously low budget so it has that lo-fi look to it, as the camera is not the best. The audio is less a problem because, save for the cop talking and the music at the opening and close, it’s all ambient noise.
The opening and the karaoke-style performance ending are really the only truly memorable bits of the entire short, unless you count the cop reading the crime reports, though that is memorable more for how slow and painful it is to watch. For a short that’s almost eight minutes long, having about two minutes taken up by this sequence is near torture.
So, where does that leave us? I would’ve liked to see some payoff involved with the title, believe it or not. If the film is positing that murder, for example, is easier for girls, then why exactly is that? Because they know how to clean and cut hair? If this is one big misogynistic joke then, okay, at least that is an attempt at something, but even that feels like I’m reaching to find a meaning for something that’s just as straightforward as it seems, which, as it is, is underwhelming.
I like to believe that, for the most part, when filmmakers set out to make a film, they do so for a reason, or to say something. I feel that Salimes felt the need to make this short for some purpose, but I’m lost as to what that might be. Since we’ve seen and reviewed a few of his other films, Points of Interest and I Like Talking About Music, respectively, that showed some massive skill and talent, this one missing the mark is surprising; this is a short from 2007, though, so perhaps the difference is in the years between the productions. In this case, the message, if it’s there, didn’t get through to me.
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