The Blue Spruce has a very David Lynch-ian vibe; things are definitely “off” here at the bar. Between the coat-check with a penchant for honking a bike horn and the two creepy barkeeps with the weird smirks, I probably would’ve changed my mind and wandered somewhere else for a drink. Still, our Patrick Stimpson (Spyro Arvanitis) isn’t there for the aesthetics; he’s got a fortune he needs telling, and Darcell (Elizabeth Neale) is the lady in the backroom with the answers he seeks… whether he wants them or not.
As a testament to a style committed to and then followed through on competently, The Blue Spruce doesn’t disappoint. As I mentioned above, its vibe is just a little “off”; just enough of a horizon-jiggle to make you wonder if you’re dizzy or not. This never really gets comfortable, for the characters onscreen or for you the viewer, and that’s the point. Or at least I think it is.
I didn’t necessarily understand the ending, but I’m willing to accept that as a failure on my part as the audience as opposed to the filmmakers’ ability to convey their message. I know that how it ends means something, I just haven’t decided on what that is yet. I’m sure for some it’ll be extremely obvious, and perhaps the filmmakers are giggling at my inability to grasp it, but I can’t pretend otherwise.
Films like The Blue Spruce are actually quite difficult to review, because so much of the reaction to the film is based on feel. If you were to take an arbitrary checklist of the necessary characteristics to make a quality short film, this hits on everything from look, performance, sound… and yet that unease that permeates throughout also holds me back from higher praise. I can’t necessarily explain or understand it, either, and I both welcome and applaud being challenged in such a fashion.
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the vibe may’ve stuck with me long after the film ended, but the details of the story didn’t. Then again, that actually works within the framework of the film’s narrative. So perhaps we’ll try this: The Blue Spruce is a stylistic experience that is as vaguely unsettling as it is forgettable, and that’s a compliment.
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