Only film can so deftly overlap narration, visuals, music, and sound effects to illicit feeling. The feeling of being lost in a moment. Haunted by a memory. Or forced to relive a decision. Film is capable of replicating Déjà vu. It is one of the tricks film can play effortlessly that is simply not possible in literature. Last years “Arrival” and “Manchester by the Sea” both revealed information sparingly and juxtaposed the past and the present without the audience always knowing which was which. Writer/Director Bernard Kordieh’s short film “Squares” belongs in the company of those movies which successfully tiptoe the delicate line of time.
“Squares” follows Noah (Aaron Fontaine), a young backpacker. We track him as he hitchhikes along roads. Traverses the country. Shoplifts from a bodega. We see glimpses of his relationship with a woman. Their flirtatious looks on a train and later their arguments. Noah tells her that he lives in the present but the film exists everywhere else. Tying together the two timelines is Anton (Antony Acheampong) who serves as an omniscient narrator who observes from the window of his high-rise.
What propels the film is the excellent photography and sound design. Markus Ljungberg’s cinematography perfectly balances the dreamy feeling of Noah’s wandering and the nervous, jagged edges of falling in love with the confidently composed wide landscape shots. And other than some iffy ADR, The sound design subtly uses ticking clocks, sirens, and approaching trains to give the feeling of inevitability. Dread and the looming risk of loss haunt the edges of every frame.
Those seeking a straight story should look elsewhere. Kordieh has made a film that is less about drawing a straight narrative line and more about creating mood.