Seven years after an unknown “incident,” one man (Oriol Pia) lives in a world of isolation. Graffiti is quiet in this regard. Indeed, no words are spoken. The most we get out of Pia verbally is him howling in a call-response fashion with his dog.
Graffiti has a familiar feel to other post-apocalyptic stories, most overtly I Am Legend given the boy-and-his-dog approach. The major addition is the silent conversation the man has with an invisible stranger. Spray painted messages on a wall are the extent of dialogue, and it is an interesting approach.
The film is particularly dark. Not in tone, but in lighting. Shots yield beautiful landscapes within and without the concrete structure that is the man’s home, but sometimes these compositions are hampered by the lack of light.
There is some striking imagery in Graffiti. The location. The wall that holds the characters’ conversation, a montage of black block letters. An abandoned Ferris wheel. A formation of trees through a broken window. The visuals account for much of the dramatic movement of the film; that and Pia’s muted reactions.
Graffiti is a silent love story that plays on the familiar formula of post-apocalypse cinema. Its ambiguity and narrative efficiency is effective, using simplicity as a means of emotional resonance. It may not do much in terms of larger impact or staying power, but its redeeming qualities are by no means minuscule.
Graffiti is one of 10 live action short films currently shortlisted for the 2017 Academy Award nominations. The shortlist is as follows:
- Bon Voyage (Dir. Marc Wilkins)
- Ennemis Interieurs (Dir. Selim Azzazi)
- Graffiti (Dir. Lluis Quilez)
- La Femme et le TGV (Dir. Timo von Gunten)
- Nocturne in Black (Dir. Jimmy Keyrouz)
- The Rifle, The Jackal, the Wolf and the Boy (Dir. Oualid Mouaness)
- Silent Nights (Dir. Aske Bang, Prod. .Kim Magnusson)
- Sing (Mindenki) (Dir. Kristof Deak)
- Timecode (Dir. Juanjo Gimenez)
- The Way of Tea (Dir. Marc Fouchard, Prod. Matthieu Devillers)
The Oscar nominations will be announced January 24, 2017.
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)