I honestly believe there are no coincidences in life. I’ve been recently going through a number of problems; most of these new to me even after 20 years of sobriety. Addiction is an insidious disease, it works, worms, and manifests in the strangest and most destructive ways. To be honest, and I guess sobriety pulls this out of me, is that I was most likely heading in the direction of a relapse. Thankfully, by some divine intervention, the director of LAPSE somehow found me. Mr. Salerno, the writer/director asked if I’d review his film. Honored to be asked, I did so, and here’s my short film review.
LAPSE, by writer/director Anthony Haden Salerno is an artfully crafted, emotionally dark but uplifting short film with a thirty minute run time. Although most short films run with far less time, the length, pacing, and multiple story time lines leave you feeling one half-hour has barely passed. In short, if you’ll pardon the pun, this reviewer was drawn in emotionally from the dramatic opening cues, the films use of stunning cinematography and the emotionally riveting score.
From the beginning of the film, The Man, a thirty something businessman, is spiraling down into alcohol and drug addiction. LAPSE has three timelines that are smartly, seamlessly woven into a rich tapestry like story of The Man’s life. We see him as a child, a somewhat younger man, and as the man we know from the film’s opening sequence. As the child’s storyline moves forward we discover The Man’s father is a somewhat physically and verbally abusive alcoholic, which to the director’s credit this is left mostly to the viewer’s imagination. Ultimately that’s a darker place then most directors and writers can ever go. In the middle timeline we meet The Man’s love interest. Although it is unclear she is a wife we are sure this relationship is significant to both. That’s what matters most. It is through this timeline we discover The Man’s father is in a hospice.
Throughout the film, as it moves from timeline to timeline, there is the ever-present faceless stranger. He’s dressed in a business suit and there is a black void of space where the face should be. The stranger appears nearly everywhere we see The Man drinking, snorting cocaine, and smoking marijuana. This is just one aspect of the film that gives it a truly sinister feel, which is what addiction is. There is a moment, however, as the middle and current timelines intersect that becomes clouded, and I wasn’t sure what timeline I was experiencing, but that moment was fleeting at best and honestly didn’t matter one bit. The timelines were connecting.
Overall, LAPSE, is a skillfully constructed, art-house-type short film that uses a mix of subtle and often times emotionally charged scenes that pull the viewer into The Man’s life. The acting was superb and hats off to both Peter Ganim as The Man and Thérèse Plummer as The Woman, as both offered up performances strife with emotional turmoil.