This Is Water is incredibly slick. Director Freidell is literally visualizing a commencement speech David Foster Wallace once gave. Wallace will mention cars on a freeway, Freidell has the cars on the freeway. Often, Freidell visually represents parts of the speech–in stylized graphics–in his shots.
And that slickness, whether it’s how well Freidell brings everything together to make a cohesive, predictable narrative, but how he comments on that narrative. The narrative, which isn’t Wallace’s creation, has depth because of how it plays against Wallace’s narrative outline. And Freidell is translating it.
Wallace’s speech–which basically espouses a humanist belief (I think someone lifted it for a “House M.D.” monologue too–has a shifting point. He appeals to his listeners vanity, then explores their vanity. Freidell’s playing with the same thing–only by engaging with their expectations for a short like This Is Water.
It’s rather cool.
Edited and directed by Matthew Freidell; screenplay by Matthew Freidell, based on a speech by David Foster Wallace; directors of photography, Matthew Freidell and Catherine Asanov; produced by Allison Freidell, Whitney Willison and Jeremy Dunning.
Starring Hunter McClamrock (Man), Jaycie Dotin (Woman), Shey Lyn Zanotti (Mother), Phoenix List (Child) and Rhoda Pell (Cashier); narrated by David Foster Wallace.