Most student films generate polite nods and secret groans, but Sarah Lasley deserves genuine applause for her stylish “Gloria Mundi,” which offers a wonderfully harsh view of today’s young people.
The film takes place in a tightly confined outdoor space where late teen/early twenties students are clustered in twos, threes and fours. Most of them wear enigmatic expressions and the majority look away from their surroundings to tap away feverishly on their handheld devices. What little conversation exists sounds like half-told stories involving a mysterious girl whose network connectivity and personal problems have elicited sparks of curiosity from her peers.
In the course of the film, a truly bored person eventually shifts away from this weird setting and peers into spaces where movement and energy swirl: an underwater ballet, a ballet rehearsal hall and a photo studio come alive in these startling vision escapes.
Lasley’s concept of a wired-turned-haywire youth world is striking in its originality, and the film’s production values are polished and professional. Ah, if only more student films could be as self-assured and imaginative as this one!