Composed of three vignettes with largely identical dialogue but wildly different meanings, “Remote” is an arty student film from writer-director-co-production designer Ethan Tobman which starts out dull but gets a little interesting just before fade out.
The first vignette, depicts a dysfunctional, but very attractive and demonstrative, biracial lesbian couple (Marie Pierre and C.C.). They talk, a gift is exchanged, one of them watches television and they begin to make love. Next door, much the same dialogue is repeated in a completely different situation. This time, an apparently mentally disabled teenager (Amy Schwartz) watches television as her loving father (Josh Kleinmuntz) returns home. She has a seizure and wets herself. The father cleans her and we see a picture of the father and what may be her mother.
So far, we’re in the realm of the sort or arch, ultra-oblique filmmaking that university film departments seem to encourage. (I went to one once, trust me on this.) Fortunately, the last segment improves things substantially. This time, a boy in his early teens (Reed Van Dyk) watches TV, an unlit cigarette in his mouth as his parents bicker in the next room. Then, through a hole in the wall, a finger (digitally portrayed by Noelle Valdivia) emerges through the hole and begins to talk (if a disembodied finger can be said to “talk”….). Flame shoots through the hole in the wall and the boy lights his cigarette. Then things get stranger still.
“Remote” is, for the most part, just that. Obscurity is rarely a virtue, but in the last section of this eleven minute film, distance plus a little imagination — and better than average production values — at least adds up to something that lingers in the memory after the tape on my review copy runs out.