MultiMediaMouth at Sundance London: An Oversimplification Of Her Beauty
Terence Nance has a story that most guys can relate to. Despite doing everything right and being the creative, interesting person he is, he seems to have trouble not just finding the perfect person to have a relationship with, but is also always conflicted about how far he wants to commit or how far he wants to take something with a dash of ‘Friend Zone’ and ‘I’m already seeing someone’ thrown in. Falling in love and dating is probably one of the more complicated forms of human emotion and expression because there are a lot of complications, pitfalls and emotional commitments to make from it. Most of the time, it’s extremely one-sided and if you find the right person, you got to try your damnest to make it work.
In essence, An Oversimplification Of Her Beauty is a sort of director’s cut to Nance’s short film How Would You Feel? that he showed to 100 people in a small theatre with one of them being a girl he wanted to go further with, Namik Winter, who helped him film the movie not really knowing it was that way. As the narrator explains at the beginning, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty is a companion piece that is put in to put context to the relationship experiences of How Would You Feel? but also to talk about what happened after Namik saw the short. It exchanges the two films in a rather annoying video tape ejection/entry sequence that practically screams the ‘indie hipster’ attitude that people can dislike at time. It is not the first film to do that, sure, but it is annoying regardless.
You could possibly be a little conflicted about how Terence approaches telling his crush, Namik, about how he feels using the short to do it mostly because it feels slightly hypocritical on Terence’s part. She helps him film scenes, just random things that go on and show it to her along with a load of people that was basically one side of a complicated story. It is not a way to help you gain trust in someone you want to go into a relationship that has a key ingredient of trust in it. Some might look at that and say it could be seen as sweet and romantic and they would have a point to that because expressing yourself in an art form can be seen as sweet, caring and romantic to someone you want to be with, but when you are unsure how they are going to react to such a thing, it does feel like a failure in terms of an expression of love in the same way a studio would look at a blockbuster as a failure for not making its money back.
As was mentioned before, Terence is a relatable guy and his issues spread beyond language barriers and across countries but he never seems like a guy who wants to find the best way to solve his issues but rather try typical things guys try such as put on a different bravado and as such, it is unsure if he comes off as any kind of sympathetic figure as much as a guy who tries the same things in relationships and fails the same ways but again, because of the complications of relationships in general, you’re not really sure what he should do about it because everyone has a different method of making it work. It’s not so much trying to justify the guy as trying to understand his sometimes methods of madness of doing things. Even when Namik makes her intentions clear and proper, he isn’t sure how to either deal with it or move on from it which makes the film slightly more aggravating in the sense that it almost does not need to exist for the intentions it sets out.
For festival movies of any kind, length can either feel like a burden or not really something to notice. AOOHB falls into the former. Nance uses animated sequences, big worded narration and fine tuned artistic editing to make points that could have been made in half the time without trying to be artistic. There is only so many ways to say ‘She wasn’t very interested in me’ without trying different forms of animation to do it. Having said all that, those sequences are beautiful and varied using different art forms and animation types to do it from different forms of 2D to stop motion and such. From that perspective, it is a really nice film to look at at points if you ignore everything it tries to do.
An Oversimplification Of Her Beauty, on paper, sounds rather interesting and could have been something truly unique if not for the fact that it is too long, too artsy and nowhere near interesting as it thinks it is especially considering that most of the problems have much simpler answers then he makes them out to be in terms of relationship matters. In that regard, it is a true film endurance test if you are willing to wait almost two hours to get to the point of it all.