this is the first of two reviews of short film reviews I need to write for my Production Project 2 class. The film I’ll be looking at in this post is Crossbow, a 2007 short film written by David Michod, who would later go on to make Animal Kingdom (2010). Although in my eventual PP2 project I’ll be taking on the role of editor, in this review I’ll be focusing on the directing and the cinematography.
Crossbow focuses on the story of a young boy. He lives with his parents who don’t seem to have time for him and don’t seem to understand him. The film is told chiefly via the voiceover of the boy’s next door neighbour. We see the boy and get the sense that he is a bit of a loner. We see his parents and they don’t seem to be behaving appropriately around their son, having loud sex around the house, smoking home made bongs and inviting shady characters around to visit. The narrator empathises with the boy’s situation, saying that it was weird enough to be the neighbour of the household, let alone part of it. The story ultimately escalates towards a violent conclusion.
Crossbow has a similar look to that of Animal Kingdom, although I feel there was a huge jump in quality between the two films. Although Crossbow looks amazing and is by no means a bad film, there is still a lingering sense of someone of hasn’t quite found their own style. That said, Michod seems very close to hitting all the right notes in Crossbow and he seems extremely comfortable behind a camera. The visuals have a really cinematic quality to them. There have been so many bleak kitchen sink dramas coming out of Australia over the last couple of decades (not that I’m saying they’re bad films) and probably in fact just a whole heap of bleak looking films in general coming out of Australia. It’s nice to see a really colourfully vivid Australian film. Although it is a dark film, both in the visuals and the mood, the colour that is in frame is really vibrant and highlighted. It’s a stylised film. Moments such as when the father (Joel Edgerton) smokes his home made bong in a slow motion shot really add to the atmosphere.
Crossbow was only Michod’s second film as a director but he already seemed to have a strong grasp of the job. The film relies quite heavily on style and Michod has a good command of this. He slows down and speeds up the action where relevant, sometimes for the sake of style along and sometimes to accentuate the on screen events. When the house is filled with the father’s friends and they crowd hectically around the boy, the film speeds up to highlight the animalistic nature in which the adults interact with the child. “The house was like a cave. And all these dirty monkey’s who’d go in it.”
The film seems to be more of a stepping stone to something better than a fully formed film. It’s not a bad film at all, but the shakiness of a new director is felt throughout. I think the heavy style is definitely something i’d be interested in looking at in our PP2 short film. Obviously it will depend on which script we ultimately choose, but I’m hoping that there will be enough room within the script to really inject a bit of mood and style into it, rather than just serving the dialogue.