Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Art of Storytelling

It's the most cultural time of the year here in Abu Dhabi: the fifth annual Abu Dhabi Film Festival has kicked off, bringing dozens of international movies to malls and hotels across the emirate.

Last night Mrs. Blog and I saw a remarkable piece of artistry called "Almost in Love." The writing was beautiful; as I have complained before, dialogue has always been one of my weak points as a writer, but this movie was filled with strong, natural, engaging conversation.

It is essentially a love story. I won't bother trying to sum up the plot--there are a lot of threads--but the gist of it is the important, difficulty and beauty of finding love.

But the fascinating thing about it is that it was done in two 40-minute takes. That's right: two locales, two groups of actors (some of whom appear in both takes) and two long shots.

The director and writer, Sam Neave, uses some interesting techniques, like occasionally shifting the sound to follow a conversation offscreen while we watch two characters interact silently in front of us. It gives the effect of being at a busy cocktail party, where you tune in and out of the conversations around you.

And none of it comes across as gimmicky or distracting. It's not ad-libbed; the acting is superb and it is clear everyone has a superb grasp of their lines. I'm guessing that like a stageplay, it was rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed until everything is not only memorized, but natural. And then they shot it.

We saw the world premiere. But I urge you, if this film appears at an art house (or, if you're in the Middle East, a mall), go check it out.

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