By David Katz
Girl in Motion (2011), a new short film written and directed by budding filmmaker Phil Bowman, immediately impresses with its nuanced, original take on a well-worn subject. It follows an unnamed young lady, the titular ‘girl in motion’ (played by the impeccable Amy De Bhrǔn), as she navigates her way through London singleton life, guided by her synesthesia. This condition offers her a distinct way of gauging the situations she finds herself in; in a beautiful symbolic play touching a male admirer’s hand sets off a colour-coded motif in her mind, fashioned in the three colours of traffic lights. The narrative flow of the film, in its carefully observed manner, documents her search for the green light.
De Bhrǔn offers a perfectly understated and soulful performance and Bowman has a keen eye for capturing adult social interaction in all its self-consciousness and uncertainty. This allies some of the film’s style with Woody Allen’s more dramatic works such as Hannah and her Sisters (1986) and Husbands and Wives (1992), down to the typically literary note of the protagonist’s creative writing group. In its short running time this film sensitively addresses ideas around defining yourself in the urban metropolis with all the shudders and romantic dead-ends that it may entail. A particularly funny and believable sequence is when our Girl in Motion goes on a blind date with a friend’s work colleague who keeps enthusiastically reaching to fill up her wine glass and prematurely asks her back to his flat. Who of us hasn’t found ourselves trying to tactfully decline such presumption?
The relief from a succession of bad dates is provided by her library’s creative writing class, where Bowman gets a few good laughs introducing the various students, presided over by the shawl-wearing teacher. If you are lucky enough to catch a screening of this film watch out for a moonlit ending by the Thames, executed in a manner also evoking Woody Allen but this time his latest film Midnight in Paris (2011). Unlike Allen’s more recent efforts, Girl in Motion has a weight lent by its great sense of lived-in authenticity. Its portrayal of restless singledom has heart, life and energy to burn.
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