Hollywood film editor Melissa Kent's directorial debut takes the form of a thought-provoking, engrossing short which combines the past, present and future into just fifteen minutes of expertise. Bring on her first feature - it can't come soon enough.
Film editing has always been a very behind the scenes, tucked away compartment of the film production process. It doesn’t come anywhere near the realm of the auteur, the anticipated Oscar awards, or even the DVD cover, usually. But no doubt it requires a while lot of talent, and a whole lot of patience, just as any role in pre-production, production and post-production needs, and somehow Hollywood film editor Melissa Kent has made a bit of a name for herself in the industry. She’s edited top Hollywood hits like The Virgin Suicides, Four Christmases and The Age of Adaline, and as of 2016 has now swung around into the driver’s seat, adding a director’s credit to her name.
Bernie and Rebecca, the Kent directed short film, reveals fifteen short, bizarre minutes of romance, heartbreak, and every what-if in the book, between the two title characters. We start with an ending, and finish with one too, opening with the end of their first date, a blind date. It’s as awkward and adorable as you can imagine, before transforming into the merely sickening as they retreat back into Rebecca’s house and talk of their heartache and longings for something serious. But all is not as it seems – I mean, it’s 2016, things can and will never be as they seem anymore – and the pair start to discuss their future, as if it had already happened but is only unravelling right now. Speaking of the future as the past whilst in the present. Sounds pretty clever, right?
And it is, to an extent. It isn’t enough to create too much empathy for either Bernie or Rebecca, but it’s a solid idea carried out to some level of evident expertise. In fact, it glitters of expertise, Kent’s prior skills clearly coming in handy here. Though it starts out by idling on the edge of mundanity, of cliché and of thanking god that it’s only fifteen minutes, after five its sparkle of originality begins to make itself known.
It should also be recognised that a mere conversation between two people with only a handful of flashbacks means that the pressure put on the dialogue to be fresh and interesting and engrossing is racked up, twenty-stupid. But Bernie and Rebecca handles it with a similar prowess, enabling its cinematography and editing to take some of that pressure off.
Kudos to both John Harris, the screenwriter, and Kent for making a short, ongoing conversation intriguing and clever – somehow they’ve broken the rules and rearranged them to make a better fit, and that takes guts.
Bernie and Rebecca (2016), directed Melissa Kent, was selected for the Oscar-qualifying festival, La Shorts Fest.