Palindrome Film Fest Trailer from Mark Schwab on Vimeo.
Directed by: Mark Balunis
Written by: Mark Balunis
Genre: Drama / Science Fiction
PALINDROME ( 2017 )
A husband and wife team not only invent a working concept for teleportation, but also a prototype that will "change the world as we know it." The machine in question is capable of transporting, much like out beloved Star Trek transporters, inanimate objects instantly over a short distance. As the two stress over their looming government deadline, they share some warm moments before the final day when the prototype is set to be demonstrated. Mark Balunis, the film's director, uses the relationship of the two central characters in an attempt to drive home the dramatic elements. In theory this may work, but in this case it doesn't necessarily make for a better short film. With no clear cut viewer direction, a hard approach to either science or drama would have been beneficial. I did however, understand the attempt and did appreciate the effort to separate this movie from countless others. The tiresome cinema clichés, especially regarding science fiction, demand a fresh look now days- but this clearly won't be a film that everyone appreciates. As cool as the device itself looks, especially for an independent film, we just don't feel we've spent enough time with it. Instead of some trials, errors, and scientific drama, we're left with a lot of heavy dialog that was intended to bring us closer to the characters themselves. On the flip side, instead of any meaningful relationship building from Mark Balunis and his cast, we're left with a borderline "Hum-de-dum" sci-fi story with not enough scientific charm. There's no clear cut path and everything feels half developed during certain key points. The clear goal, from what I could tell, was not just about developing a new technology, but rather mixing that concept with humanity. What we ended up with was a half and half that although didn't fail completely, could have been so much better.
Speaking of timing: Some of the problem may have been the long winded nature of the film. Stripping out thirty to forty percent of this piece would have resulted in a slicker, meaner film. Establish your characters, put out your plot and get on with it. A faster paced production would have forced only the best of the best scenes, and hit the viewer, me, at a frenzied pace. Introduce, establish and conclude. A leaner version would also allow the mix of science and human drama to coexist, simply because it would come so fast. For me, everything felt so dialog heavy and what's worse, the unrelenting line after line was not needed. I understood the relationship and dynamics; the credible job delivered by the cast made sure of that. There was no need to kick the dead horse as it were. I was also a little underwhelmed by some of the cinematography during a few scenes. For God's sake people. I'm tired of getting motion sickness watching indie films! Thankfully, Palindrome isn't a complete collection of sickness inducing shots, but does contain enough to mention. Everything has it's place and when a film is going for a dramatic feel, the use of motion should be kept to a minimum.
Palindrome, as a low budget film does play better than many indie flicks. Especially considering it's overused content. Without the clear cut lean toward one genre or the other however, it does come through as a little messy. Understand that I've seen much worse, and I'm in no way writing this is a bad movie. On the contrary, for what was accomplished as a low budget indie, this production fared rather well and what's more is that it was actually finished. It simply comes down to it's ability to hold our attention for twenty plus minutes. Although this title does manage, it does so just barely. The actors handled themselves well. The concept writing was also good. It all comes down to pacing and for me, the pacing felt slightly wrong. As for the ending itself? That's another story. I'm all for directors not "spoon-feeding" their viewers but with Palindrome, the ending and use of effects just felt weird and awkward. I fear that some viewers won't quite understand what had happened.
Palindrome, for me, was a watchable short film that should, and could have been a great one. Time wasted? I don't think so but I guess time will tell.