A young woman (Danielle Channell) beds an older man for money, which she then spends to buy drugs. An older man (J. Mitchell Haley) attends a funeral, while the younger woman breaks into his house and finds a secret, locked room in the basement filled with VHS tapes. We do not know who these people are, their names or even what’s on the VHS tapes. We can guess, we can interpret based on what we’ve seen and we can maybe even predict what is to come, but doesn’t that say more about us than this short film?
I truly hope for the sake of humanity that Ordinary Story is not a common ordinary story of everyday reality. This is not a criticism of the film so much as a fear of how bad it might really be out there beyond the comfortable confines of my geek-obsessive bubble. Prostitution and drugs, sure, they’ve been around for a long time, but the hidden, locked room in the basement is slowly becoming a cinematic norm, which makes me wonder how much of art is handing us back reality without us really embracing what that actually means for society. Yuck, ugh, shivers.
Moving on, I was impressed that filmmaker Tony Myles kept my attention with what is, when stripped all the way down to one of its basest explanations, a dialogue-free film. All the emotional power that this film has is going to be given to it by the audience, by their own interpretations of events and the who and how it all connects. I can easily see a room full of people walking out with entirely different ideas of what they just saw; there may be signposts along the way, but there’s no hand-holding.
This is a dirty, ugly film, in look as much in how one can interpret events. If you’re a bit uncomfortable throughout, or even on-edge without realizing it until it is all over, it would not be a surprise to me. Ordinary Story touches numerous nerves, even if you personally decide which ones they are.
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