Movie Review : First Impressions (2017)
There isn't much you can do in 4 minutes. Eat a quick breakfast, browse through your Facebook newsfeed or perhaps make polite conversation with co-workers in the morning. If someone enters your life for 4 minutes or less, there's a good chance you don't remember him/her by the end of the day. This idea is more or less the driving force behind Eric Shapiro's 4 minutes-long short film First Impressions, an adaptation from a short story by Greg F. Gifune. What can you know about someone in five minutes or less? This is the open challenge of First Impressions.
So, not only this movie is very short, but it's also very simple. One scene, spliced with several quick flashbacks towards the end. A man (Richard Caines) is smoking a cigarette in his underwear on a bed in what seems to be a post-coital bliss and thinking about the woman showering next room (Comika Hartford). The audience has no information about the characters outside of the narrator's thoughts, but is he telling the truth about who they are? Are they a couple? Are they having an extra-marital affair? What the fuck is going on exactly?
First Impressions is not subtle, but I don't think it was meant to be. There's a pretty telling detail in the frame composition that reveals what is actually going on about twenty seconds into the short film if you're attentive. But you have to look for it. In that sense, First Impressions is more of a game than an actual narrative. Can you see the bigger picture before the credits roll? This sure is a different way to address an audience, but it is well-suited to such a short format. It would have been exasperating, had it been 10 minutes longer.
I've enjoyed First Impressions. Perhaps not as much as I liked Eric Shapiro's other short films Hoax and Bango, but I liked that it stimulated a different muscle than conventional movies do. I would watch a hundred segments like this if they were part of a video game with mysteries I could solve, to be honest. So, how good is your inner detective, really? Can it solve the riddle of First Impressions in less than 4 minutes? If you're up to the task, I invite you to give it a shot and email me how long it took you to figure it out and what detail tipped you off. So, you tell me. Am I just a tough crowd or can you spot it fast than I did?