When a teenager runs away from home, she encounters an arcade machine that replays her deepest regret.
Even before the emergence of the effects and editing that dominate the visuals of this film, writer/director Michael Felker presents his tale of painful regret with images that are striking and progress to downright mesmerising. Following the introduction of Kate Buatti’s Jennifer, we are drawn into a story of a girl quite literally closing the door on an empty, stark and desolate part of her life and opening the door to a magical, mystical and almost spiritual world. This world takes the form of a retro arcade, presented in a glorious haze of purple light. Carissa Dorson’s photography not only anchors the visual tone of the film but is crucial to the storytelling, working in conjunction with Felker’s vision and Rebeca Marques’ editing to reflect the state of mind of our protagonist.
Without a word of dialogue being spoken, we understand everything we need to. This is accomplished through more than functional storytelling. We feel the emotional shift as Jennifer indulges her desire to escape from the trauma that she is trying to rid herself of. We also feel the shift back as reality punches its way into her fantasy, ironically in a very high-concept sci-fi fashion. Discovering an unplugged but still functioning arcade game, Jennifer is given the opportunity to replay and correct her biggest regret. This regret is revealed in stages as Jennifer tries and fails to confront the demons plaguing her. In doing so the film plays with concepts such as the effect of emotions on perspective and the dangers of hanging onto the past.
As with any visually driven narrative experience, the devil is in the detail and this is a film that excels in that department. Felker drops clues throughout the film as to what has driven Jennifer to cut herself off from her past, revealing their significance at the moments where they will have the greatest impact. Additionally, the environmental minutiae applied in the arcade scenes create a lived-in environment, which has a greater resonance when coupled with the ethereal, almost supernatural tone that the film strikes.
Due credit must also be given to Kate Buatti’s performance as she carries the film without uttering a word of dialogue for the majority of its 10-minute runtime. Silently, she communicates her anger, frustration, pain, curiosity and so much more, simply through her physical screen presence. Buatti also does a fantastic job of getting us to buy into those emotions, ensuring that we not only understand Jennifer’s emotional state but that we share it.
Perhaps the most affecting and unexpectedly powerful thing about this film is how much heart it has. With high concept sci-fi, it is easy to get bogged down in the premise, but in this instance, Felker does not lose sight of the human story at the centre of this intriguing tale. The concept of the regret-fixing arcade game acts as a prism for processing the emotional trauma embedded in Jennifer’s journey. As a result, we stay fixed on her arc rather than the ‘in-world’ details about how everything works.
By the time the credits roll, Felker’s story has encouraged us to consider our own regrets and where they have led us. Crucially, despite the thematic messages of being stuck in the past, the film does very well (especially in times like these) to encourage us to think hopefully about the future. An often intense but ultimately uplifting film, Would You Like To Try Again? is ten minutes very well spent.
Studio: Last Life LLC | Year: 2019 | Genre: Sci-fi/Drama | Duration: 10 Mins | Suitability: Advisory
See more from this filmmaker