Review by E. J. Wickes
Film by Stéphane Lapointe
span class=”wpsdc-drop-cap”>The film No Wave opens slowly from black with very relaxing music embellished with the sounds of rolling waves. A man sleeping in a lavish bed by a large window and under a vaulted ceiling, but a cozy room, appears to be resting quietly. Immediately we’re quietly lulled into a sense of anticipation. We’re not quite sure what time of day it is, but the light comes through the window at the perfect angle, and we follow the camera as it begins its sweep from the foot of the bed – following the pattern of the comforter, as it becomes a metaphor for the surface of the ocean; to the protagonist’s sleep-masked face.
Henry, played by Wayne Pere, starts to stir and is awakened by the sound of a man’s anxious voice off in the distance. Compelled to find out what’s going on after an even louder disturbance, he calls what we think is room service, to discover that he’s in some kind of a therapeutic hospice with a relaxation program playing in the background.
The “concierge” on the other end of the line seems very disinterested, almost to the point of being annoying, but her attitude is surpassed by Henry as he loses his cool and escalates the tension by getting even angrier. He finally gets connected to someone from the next tier of management and then things really start to get interesting.
I was almost missing the Rod Serling introduction as No Wave progressed. It had some Twilight Zone undertones. The lighting gives it a bit of a noir feeling from the cinematographer’s first point of view. The Art Direction was convincing enough and compliments to the set designers, Frederic Devost and David Pelletier for the nicely appointed scenic nuances.
Some anticipation is always conjured up when the film opens to the protagonist sleeping. The lighting, the elevated camera angles and the direction brings you in slowly, as the first disturbances encroaches on his serene existence. His tension is brought across well with tight close ups and camera angles. The colorization maintains an oceanic color scheme with blues and greens to compliment the narrative.
“Are you lonely Mr. Mapplethorpe?”, the man on the phone asks and we know this is not going to end well. The camera slowly pans the entire dimly lit room, past the louvered closet doors and peering into the shadows, as it comes back full circle onto Henry. And the man on the phone continues his relentless verbal cat and mouse.
As the film draws to its conclusion, we’re not sure what Henry did or whether or not he even knows himself. Is he in denial of some awful deed, or is he indeed the culprit who committed a premeditated act of murder? And has Fate come full circle to replay Henry’s demise for the next visitor?
Over all it was an enjoyable short feature with all the trappings of good noir. The minimal approach was still rich with well coordinated cinematography and art direction. It kept my interest to the end. And even though we’re always a little jaded with “it’s all been done before”, it’s always satisfying to see how someone can do it again with a refreshing new twist.
Stéphane LaPointe is a celebrated film and television director and screenwriter from Quebec. He won the Genie Award in 2006 for his debut film “La Vie secrète des gens heureux” (“The Secret Life of Happy People”) (also nominated the same year for Best Achievement in Direction and Best Original Screenplay).He then went on to direct five seasons of the critically acclaimed cult TV Series “Tout sur moi”, for which he won the Gémeaux (equivalent of an Emmy) for Best Comedy Director in 2011 and 2012.
His second feature film is a dark comedy called “Les Maîtres du suspense” (“The Masters of Suspense”). After that, he directed for Radio-Canada the successful TV series “Lâcher Prise” (a feel good show about burn-out and depression) and this year the twisted thriller TV series “Faits Divers”.
E. J. Wickes is a visual artist and the Managing Editor of Cult Critic Film Magazine, as well as the creator and publisher of The Metamodern Magazine. His aesthetics lie somewhere in the vortex between fine art painting and filmmaking. Eric has worked in the Art Department on a variety of Hollywood, TV and independent film productions and as the Creative Director of HLC Studios, he oversees the company’s media and publishing division.