Normal Behavior (2010) – By Josh Samford

Having reviewed one of M. Legend Brown’s previous short films, Arthur, Autumn & A Violin, I am slightly familiar with what the filmmaker brings to the table. His latest short, Normal Behavior shows a marked improvement over his previous entry and is a very well prepared examination of the mental condition. Although the short only comes in at seven minutes in length, Brown manages to pack his short with enough visually stimulating content that it leaves a lasting impression. An examination of mental health and the lasting effects of guilt and isolation, Normal Behavior shows a very mature vision and is impeccably filmed.

Detailing a very brief and simple story, we watch as a young woman’s life is ripped apart by a single moment that remains entrenched within her mind. While at a outside bar-b-que, she accidentally steps out in the way of a moving vehicle. Before she can be run down, her friend steps out and knocks her out of the way and takes the impact himself. Now this young woman must go on with her life, but she can no longer contain the rage within herself and she starts to lose her grasp on reality. Her regrets, her anger and her loneliness blend into one new reality that keeps her in a self-imposed prison.

The one thing that stood out for me in Normal Behavior, from its start, is the incredibly impressive visual delivery of the film. The photography here, apparently provided by Richard Allen Crook who also served as editor, is simply fantastic. Brown shows a keen visual eye as he establishes his film with a series of quick but interesting shots that elaborate on our female lead’s mental state. There are numerous shots throughout that could be described as visually arresting. There’s an excellent use of composition and lighting throughout that gives the project a very polished feeling. Yet, the performances are what gives the films its heart. Our lead actress Mariel Josette Mickens does a great job in developing this layered character through just a short succession of scenes. It is an interesting short and one I would recommend if you’re given the opportunity to check it out. You can read more about M. Legend Brown and his companies various projects at poorchildfilms.com.