Cathy and Chris are young New Yorkers whose marriage has suddenly grown stale. Cathy turns for comfort (emotional, then physical) to her half-brother Stan; they explain the incestuous stigma by blithely stating their actions are only “half-bad” since Stan is her half-brother. Chris winds up in search of understanding from his friend Magnus. Their relationship gets physical also and the men calmly define themselves as being lovers but not being gay. Yet Magnus also has the hots for Cathy. So where can this romantic quadrangle lead?
This is the setting for “Snapshot,” a 13-minute short created earlier this year as part of the 48 Hour Film project, which challenged teams of New York filmmakers to create and complete short film from start-to-finish within a two-day period. For a film that was literally cobbled together without serious preparation, “Snapshot” is a remarkably smooth venture with a distinct personality and sophisticated style.
The joy of “Snapshot” is its refusal to explain or analyze why the characters are doing what they are doing. The Cathy-Stan relationship, clearly the ickiest of sticky wickets, is stated in a positive and unapologetic manner. The characters not only know the nature of the relationship has societal problems, but they actually enjoy stepping on the taboo.
Likewise, the bisexual Magnus and Chris are blithe in dismissing their mano-a-mano actions. To them, their relationship is a typically normal buddy kinship with nothing (pardon the expression) queer around its edges or within its core. When all four characters decide to merge into a romantic foursome, the film seems more like it belongs in Paris than New York; rarely does an independent American production have such an airy and uncomplicated vision of sexuality.
Director Jeremiah Kipp, a reviewer for FilmCritic.com, won the Best Director Award at the 48 Hour Film Festival for “Snapshot” and that honor was richly deserved. His direction recalls prime Truffaut in tackling difficult subject matter. He brings out the finest in his actors and production without weighing down the proceedings with artistic barnacles. His cast (Stephanie Foster as Cathy, Tony Martinez as Stan, Olle Agelii as Magnus and Scott Miller as Chris) are a perfect ensemble.
Two minor quibbles: Rob Reddy’s clunky modern jazz score often sounds like a high school music class attempting to replicate a Sun Ra riff and often seems more intrusive than illustrative. And the film is so intriguing that it is a shame it cannot be stretched beyond the 13-minute mark into a full feature.