40 Seconds (2005) – By Duane L. Martin

I’ve been fortunate lately in that I’ve been sent more and more short films to review. I like short films because they concentrate down their content into a focused bit of entertainment rather than dragging a twenty minute movie out to ninety or more minutes just to make it feature length.

Recently I received a copy of 40 Seconds from director Ramiro Hernandez that comes in at just under twenty minutes. Unfortunately, this is a film that could have used a ninety minute or more runtime. Why? Well mostly it’s because there’s no real back story for any of the characters in it, very little to no character development and a variety of things that seem to happen for no apparent reason or that leave you wondering why they were actually happening at all. Stretching this out into a full length film would have done wonders for it, because there’s a lot of talent here and a lot of potential that went unfulfilled and an ending that left me wondering what the hell just happened.

The story is basically about a guy named Max who has a watch that allows him to know what’s going to happen 40 seconds into the future. He seems to think he’s powerless to change what happens to other people, but yet he’s able to avoid things himself, which begs the question, if he can avoid it, why can’t he warn other people?

This is a serious film, but there are moments of comedy mixed in that feel highly out of place. The story, what there is of it, would have worked better if it had been kept more serious. More emphasis should have been placed on coherence, story development, character development and dialogue. As far as the story goes, it’s highly confusing and rather incoherent.

Now, despite all that, I do want to comment on what was good about the film. First, the look of the film is quite good. There are a lot of great visual effects, nice editing and a nice use of lighting to set a mood. The music really added to the film as well. It was very well done and the only thing I would have changed is the fact that it was chopped up in editing. It would be there in one shot, then they’d switch shots and it would be different music, and then they’d cut back again going back and forth between the two. For one particular segment of the film, that technique worked quite well, but in other parts it didn’t.

I know I gave this film a bad review, but I want to encourage writer / director Ramiro Hernandez to keep at it. There’s a lot of talent there and I can see that he has what it takes to be a good filmmaker. Some people have it and some don’t. He’s got a lot of talent and I know that as he makes more films down the road, he’s only going to get better and better.

This film is currently being shown at various film festivals. If you’d like to find out more about the film or the filmmaker, you can check out his website at http://www.fandangopictures.com.