Directed by Pierre J. Secondi | Reviewed by Rohan Bhattacharya
‘Machines;’ that is what we have become in this day and age, and with the progress of technology and science, we might eventually become even more machine-like. We are already a part of a much larger system, a system that churns our minds and sucks out our emotions. In the end, what is left is but a husk of what was previously a person with hopes and dreams, and a resolve to find happiness in life.
Director Pierre J. Secondi with his short, “The Warziniek’s File” introduces us to a similar world, where things work out like clockwork, and where humans can be robbed of their identities with the click of a button. Pierre J. Secondi’s vision of the future is strikingly similar to what might happen if one had to create a realistic version of The Matrix. How would we lead our lives? And could we do anything out of the ordinary under the noses of our overlords, and not have them erase us from existence entirely? These questions are beautifully answered by the director with the help of a simple, but stunning plot.
Paul Warziniek, or citizen 4.815.162.342, is living a simple life until he receives an email informing him that he has apparently been charged with parking tickets. As normal as that might seem to many of us, the plot takes an interesting turn when we realize that Warziniek never owned a car in the first place. Naturally, he heads over to what seems like a government administrative office to resolve this minor error. What Warziniek didn’t expect was this minor problem to become the greatest issue he has ever had to face his entire life. A person who had entered the office a happy man, never leaves the administrative building to see the light of the day ever again.
Secondi’s treatment of characters in his short film was truly fascinating. The way he has handled a group of extremely talented actors, and placed them in a setting that portrays our current world and its problems in a hyper-exaggerated manner is an extremely commendable feat. The exaggerated expressions made by the cast, and the dialogues given to them might seem unnatural when compared to how humans might communicate in real life, but that is exactly what separates Paul, our protagonist from the rest of the lot. Paul seems like the only level-headed and logical person in an office that should have reasoned with Paul, and helped him resolve his issue.
It is fascinating how people in the government office are so obsessed with practicality and time that they would stop working if the clock were to malfunction, but they don’t seem to understand Paul’s problem because of their flawed chain of command. Paul Warziniek, a person a started out as the only sane person in a room full of robot-like humans could not retain his sanity by the end of it.
As for the cinematography, the short film was, by all means, a treat to the eyes. The choice of colours and costumes to set Paul apart from the rest of the cast and the environment was remarkable, and well executed. The director was quite literally able to alienate his main character in a world he calls his home. The editing flowed extremely well; the editor was able to bring about a life-like feel in their rhythm with the excellent choice of shots to cut to. However, at times it did feel like the selection of shots were somewhat repetitive, especially in the reception desk scene, when Warziniek was confronting the receptionist. The repetition of over-the-shoulder shots felt monotonous at times; the editor could have used a different shot to bring about a visual change in that segment.
Furthermore, the sound-design was extremely well planned, and the visual effects nailed the mark! The film really did feel like it was made fifty years from now; excellent use of visual effects and amazing set design were able to help sustain the illusion of being in the future till the very end.
Rohan Bhattacharya is a video editor, filmmaker and writer. His film Komorebi won the second prize in ‘South Asia Japanese Language Short Film Competition,’ organized by The Japan Foundation, New Delhi and his latest film “Tsubaki” has been screened at the Tokyo Short Film Festival in Japan. His production house Sunkaku Productions makes movies in Japanese language to create a bridge of culture between India and Japan.