Short film review: A Single Life (2015)
James R | On 16, Jul 2017
Director: Marieke Blaauw, Joris Oprins, Job Roggeveen
Watch A Single Life online: Vimeo
Every Sunday, we review a short film available on VOD. We call it Short Film Sunday.
You’d be surprised at just how much you can squeeze into a couple of minutes. But what if those couple of minutes were able to fit in the whole of time?
That’s what happens in Marieke Blaauw, Joris Oprins and Job Roggeveen’s short film, A Single Life, in which a young woman discovers a vinyl record that has the ability to travel back and forth in time.
It’s a gloriously elegant premise, and it’s one that the film communicated without saying a single word – a remarkable feat in itself, given the mumbo-jumbo exposition you’d usually expect to find in a timey-wimey sci-fi feature. Instead, they explain it to us visually, using that universal household object: a slice of pizza. Go forward in time? The slice is gone. Go back? You can eat it all over again. In less than 30 seconds, we understand exactly what’s going on. And probably want some pizza to boot.
The woman, Pia, is naturally excited by the potential the disc opens up, rewinding back into her childhood and zipping along into the future to see what’s in store. Adulthood. A job. A baby. Old age. There’s no end to the possibility of what she can see – and, accompanied by Happy Camper’s soundtrack (available on Spotify), there’s a beautiful synchronicity between the precisely metered out music and the haphazard flurry of chronological silliness. Pizza gives way to zimmer frames with laugh-out-loud wit, before it raises a poignant question: if minutes of our existence fly past every time we close our eyes and listen to a song, what happens when the needle jumps and skips a few bars? The result is a quietly deep reminder of the importance of not rushing to the final bar of the piece – a lesson wrapped up in a 120-second track that’s endlessly surprising and guaranteed to leave a smile on your face.
Nominated for an Oscar in 2015, it was one of the shortest contenders that year – and, although it lost out to Disney, it was also the best. Squeezing decades of time into a couple of minutes? A Single Life is a magical piece of art that’s well worth a spin.