Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Requiem for Romance (2013) ****

NR, 7 min.
Director/Writer: Jonathan Ng
Voices: Shannon Kook-Chun, Meilie Ng

A few months ago I stumbled upon this website, Short of the Week. As a film buff, I couldn't have gotten luckier. Of course the advent of YouTube has been a great benefit to the short film, but this website is the best online venue I've seen. As the title clearly states, this site features a new short every week. I've seen some of my favorite films this year on this site, all under 20 minutes in length.

The most recent gem I've discovered here is the animated "Requiem of Romance". It's a sad love story, depicting the end of a relationship; where nothing very specific is wrong, but the magic just isn't there anymore. The voiceover depicts a modern relationship, a phone call that is difficult for both parties. The images are something else entirely.

Inspired by period martial arts films—like "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "House of Flying Daggers"—director, writer, animator Jonathan Ng shows us a rooftop battle between a male and a female, using ancient weapons, like swords and throwing stars.  The two figures are animated in a black ink line style that suggests traditional Asian art. The two dance across the rooftops like lovers fighting, the colored backgrounds reflecting their changing emotions.

This is an absolutely beautiful short film. The art is appropriately moving for the emotional content of the phone conversation. Even the dialogue is superbly written, perfectly capturing that bittersweet sense of the end of a loving relationship. The combination and juxtaposition of modern and traditional relationship ideals in Chinese society is also quite revealing. "Requiem for Romance" is a truly wonderful and touching experience.

Watch the entire short below.

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