Rob Ulitski - 30th Oct 2019

Life takes a surreal and introspective turn in the new double video for Beck directed by musician and director Dev Hynes (aka Blood Orange), and featuring Tessa Thompson and Evan Rachel Wood. 

Opening with a short clip set to Hyperlife, we are introduced to a hazy diner and the occupants inside. In split-screen, day to day life rumbles on as the diners are each caught in their own moment of introspection- their gazes fixed on the outside world, present in form but not in mind. This wistful moment of thought is the only thing that connects each of the different characters, and the manner in which they exist together without communication suggests they are all collectively experiencing this moment of clarity. 

As we focus on two women (Thompson and Wood) sitting in a booth by a window, we start to realise there might be more to the story. Neither of them speak, but their facial expressions look as if they are each trying to process complex emotions, which are shifting and changing rapidly. We cut to black. 

As the second segment begins, for track Uneventful Days, new characters are introduced. A young guy crying in his car, dressed in a Beck t-shirt, a middle aged office worker in a cubicle adorned with Beck posters and memorabilia. Whilst Beck does appear on-screen for an understated performance section, his name and brand appear in several of the setups, breaking the fourth wall as it were. The use of posters, t-shirts and even wardrobe choices that pay homage to previous videos (the leather jacket and boombox from 1996 single Devil's Haircut, for example) is a visual representation of Beck's own introspection. 

The narrative is very much a mystery- two characters get into an argument at the end of the video, and this is one of the only interactions with heightened, raw emotion in the whole piece. However the main focus here is on the process. The process of life, the process of looking inwards to reveal truths that we might not have found otherwise. We aren't given a three-minute narrative wrapped into a neat package, we are instead shown the b-roll, the filler, the moments of life where nothing is happening. 

Shot in a hazy, soft style, making great use of the abundant sunlight, DP Ben Carey delivers beautifully composed images, with subtle movement to match the laidback track. The styling and art direction is nostalgic yet universal, transcending the physical location and time, representing a patchwork of moments and emotion. 

This slow-burner might be light on narrative, but the real draw is the emotion of the different vignettes,  which elevates this to an interesting and unique space.

PRO Credits

Credits

DirectorDev Hynes
CommissionerKevin Kloecker
Executive ProducerSarah Pearson
Executive ProducerMcCray Sutherlin
Executive ProducerSaskia Whinney
ProducerJeff Kopchia
ProducerMaddy Perkins
EditorDev Hynes
ColouristKath Raisch
Director of PhotographyBen Carey
Production designerArae Webner
Art DirectorKendra Brandanini
CastTessa Thompson
CastEvan Rachel Wood
CastAngela Trimbur
CastAlia Shawkat
Other creditsOffice Worker: Michael Wilson Guy in Car: Blake Rosier Smiling Woman: Claire Montgomery Headbanger: Sabrea Phenix
 Headbanger: Mimmi Karim Daughter: Alexis Baumert Restaurant Server: Edmund Kwan

Rob Ulitski - 30th Oct 2019

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