Phantom (2013, Jonathan Soler)

Phantom tries hard not to have a narrative. On the surface, one could argue it really doesn’t–an unnamed woman and man talk. Director Soler has his actors recite their dialogue without much emotion. There are a couple really funny moments, but never do the characters seem to get tired. It is a narrative, of course–it all takes place in one night.

Only Soler does not spend the time with the characters talking. There are a couple moments it appears the conversation and the actors speaking are in sync, but for the most part they are not. It creates a strange effect, seeing dialogue consistently not synced with the person speaking it. It somehow focuses ones attention more.

Instead of showing this long conversation–the film runs around seventy-five minutes and is not real time. One imagines the insomniac characters drift off occasionally. So instead of showing two people talking, Soler shows them out and about in their regular lives. He also shows a lot of Tokyo. Phantom is a beauty of urban isolationism picture and an odd one.

The only time Soler goes off the rails is about thirty minutes in. He has established how he’s telling this story, he has established this beautiful muted background noise thing–the film is always very quiet, leaving the audience to imagine the sounds of the street scenes. Following the first sequence, Soler does a montage of garbage to show man’s assault on nature. It misfires.

Otherwise, though, Phantom succeeds.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Written, directed, edited, photographed and produced by Jonathan Soler; released by Ganko Films.

Starring Yuki Fujita (Woman) and Masato Tsujioka (Man).

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