Bits and Pieces (2014) – By Matthew Robinson

“Bits and Pieces” is a short film written and directed by Joseph B. Carlin. There isn’t much I can say about this seven minute short without spoiling too much, so I’ll just say that it’s a quirky or perhaps a better word would be odd short about….I’m actually not sure. According to Carlin this is the official synopsis of the film: “A terminally ill grandfather is miraculously returned to his family in perfect health while his young grandson struggles to understand the modern world as it swirls around him. [Meanwhile] his parents fight over his future.” That description is accurate (even though the final cut fails to mention anything about the grandfather being sick) but it doesn’t give you any idea just how strange this movie is.

Now I like weird movies. I see nothing wrong with films that are more about the aesthetic than the story, character development or just about any other conventional storytelling method but this short is very hit or miss. The cinematography by Jorgi La Forde is well done with nice shots of cities, the woods and some nicely executed slow motion effects; that definitely intrigued me. There is also some pretty good acting from Sarah Dewey and Christopher Dalby rounded out nicely by Marian Edminston who is so engaged in her role you truly do believe she’s the grandmother of the young boy (Tommy Donovan) and that she is struggling on what to do with her strange husband Gary Gustin.

However this is a movie that falls into the classic low budget indie trap of being weird and beautiful for weirdness and beauty’s sake. The slow motion shots, the long sweeping landscapes, the extreme close ups they all scream “look how beautiful and deep my film is” but it doesn’t advance the story. “Bits and Pieces” doesn’t tell a story and it purposefully doesn’t give any definitive answers in a thinly veiled attempt to come off as thought provoking. In the end it just feels like a group of filmmakers got a really nice camera and decided to go wild with shooting.

There is some real potential here but it’s squandered from a clear lack of purpose. Carlin definitely has some talent as a director as does Forde as a cinematographer and Luke Lawrence manages to cut the movie well enough that it is always engaging even when it’s floundering.  However in order to be a satisfying experience more effort in making a lasting impression had to be executed, and it wasn’t.

“Bits and Pieces” is an indie film that may have had a nice concept somewhere along the line but at some point I’m guessing someone working on the project said “oh boy, this would look really cool” but didn’t stop to think why that shot or that cut was important. In the end it’s a film that’s more hollow than the emotionless son and grandfather.

If you’d like to watch “Bits and Pieces”, you can find it on Vimeo here: https://vimeo.com/119355905