“Shattered Bits” examines what kind of shells people put around their lives, how they define themselves even when it’s disturbing to others, such as Zeke (Steven Amato) who gets pushed around plenty at a New York party where everyone is so into themselves and must talk about themselves and can’t let anyone alone until they talk about themselves. Or at least that’s the impression understood. Then comes Jill (Gretel Roenfeldt) who asks what happened to Zeke’s stained shirt and then leads him toward the kitchen to find a towel, an area which becomes the final resting place for Zeke’s peace of mind.
Jill isn’t a happy woman. First, her roommate tore her away from $8,000 and the story keeps rolling along as she must move back to Michigan with her family but can’t get a flight right away, and worries about her cat, which is going on ahead of her. At first, Jill is well put-together, but through the ingenious use of colors and scratchy home film footage of ice skating practice and flashbacks of a destroyed apartment, her life falls apart right there as she talks and then rants to Zeke about all the wrongs in her life while trying to convince him to come with her to a bar. There’s a moment where all color drains from this, where Jill asks Zeke how he takes off his clothes, mirroring his discomfort with these questions from her. The use of showing us what Jill is talking about seems wrong at first but is understood as she is thinking about these parts of his broken life just as much as she is telling them. When Jill really gets mad and sad and insane about her life, Gretel Roenfeldt really lets her fall apart, makes her rave at such a volume that everyone stops with their own self-centered conversations to see what the heck is going on. While that is a normal occurrence in any number of movies, this is a stare from the dead. Jill may actually be the only real personality at this party, and she really is the most unsettling.
As for Zeke, it’s simple to think that it’s better that he be the brunt of her shattered life than us, but we’re just as much him, sitting there, watching that shattered life become the titular “shattered bits”. This drama in a small package fires a lot of artillery and will carry all who were involved in this even further.