A man (Paris Morfides) is in the middle of farmland alone. Who this man is, and what he does, isn’t clear at first. At one point, he hops on his scooter and heads out to an old soccer field, where he shows some impressive juggling and shooting skills. Overall, though, he spends his day in solitude.
I have to admit, I was not enjoying Veteran for most of its running time. Between the laboriously slow pacing and the wind noise that basically assaults the microphone almost constantly, I couldn’t see where the film was trying to get to. And at twenty-plus minutes, it seemed like the film was allowed to breathe too much.
That said, by the time you realize the relevance of everything you’ve seen, and why this man is seemingly in the middle of nowhere playing soccer by himself, it begins to make sense. Suddenly the journey is more compelling, and what has come before less an annoyance and more-or-less essential. Well, less of it is essential, but you get my point. Basically, the film does reward those who stick it out from beginning to end (though the size of that reward will vary from person-to-person; some may never recover from that early dislike I went through, and still others may enjoy it from start to finish).
Personally, I think there’s a great short film in here, or at least a wonderful character study, but it’s currently hidden under superfluous layers. Does it really need to languish as long as it does early on? Couldn’t you establish everything in less time, while still having a gentle pace (I think you can)?
And for a film that looks as great as this does, and the few times there appears to be some sound mixing going on, why keep in that awful wind noise? It’d be one thing if this were a documentary and the noise unavoidable in integral footage, but this is a narrative short film that has every opportunity to record tone and use that in the mix instead. It’s not like our guy is having conversations with anyone in the middle of nowhere; it’s all ambient sound. The wind noise might add some “reality” to the footage, but really it just makes it obnoxious.
So, I’m torn on this one. There were elements I did enjoy; I think it looks beautiful, and the ending added a resonance to all that came before it that I truly appreciated. However, I can’t ignore that, for almost three quarters of the film’s running time, I didn’t really enjoy what was going on. Veteran has got something strong in it, but you may have to hunt for it, and patience is the key.
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