“Faded” brings together stories of three mental patients through the eyes and ears of Doctor Bryant (Lance Beckoff), a psychiatrist who may be having his own story told through images that flash by far too fast to register of any significant importance, thus making this quite a frustrating short film to get through. I don’t think I’ve ever used the tracking function on a VCR that long before, 10 minutes to be exact, just to see what the images were.
The performances by the actors playing the patients are impressive. There is Leonard (Michael McCoy), who has a fear of persecution and is a paranoid schizophrenic. He speaks of dignity and honor, and we find out that he beat the crap out of a fellow patient for looking at his food. Next up is Jeffery (James Elliot), a man who has a “definite refuge in hero complex”, as the doctor’s notes indicate and he speaks of not being Superman despite what the other patients think and claims that he is the most popular patient in the place. He wants out, but wants to take care of the “freaks” in the place. Then there’s Rose (Kristin Shawn Harper), to which the same notes indicate “Jungian Dream Analysis”. This isn’t exactly your “Dating Game” crowd.
Doctor Bryant remains a mystery; as his face is obscured by much darkness, save for the occasional plume of smoke from his ever-present cigarette. The flashing images if you can catch them quick enough, show a young boy (Grant Avrashow), sitting alone at a picnic table at a park and also running through a graveyard. These images are laced with others of the patients, the notes taken, the pack of cigarettes on the table, etc. Is there a story about Doctor Bryant being told here that is important? Certainly if the images go as fast as they did, then they must have been fleeting moments in the memory of Bryant, as that is what it seems to represent, but it doesn’t help if it is meant to mean anything or make any impact.
Director Bob Lyren and his cinematographer, Anka Malatynska, have a good hold on the camera work as the light is tailored to each patient as they see fit. For example, enough light is placed on Rose’s face, so the haunting elements that she speaks of in her dreams stands out more by the reaction in her face, but there is no more light to her than that.
“Faded” is a good short, if only to serve as a character study of the above-mentioned patients.