Acting Review - Julian Brand Blue Hart
Dane (Julian Brand) is a coder trying to promote his new app but when things aren’t going as well as he hopes, he’s driven to do the unthinkable.
The opening minute is just Dane going about his morning routine. 1:51 is a nice touch, quick bathing from the sink. It feels like something people do in real life. It all feels very spontaneous (adlib-ed perhaps?), which is spot on for the moment.
At 2:49 Dane plays with a cat in his closet where he sleeps, so adorable. A character being friendly with animals is a surefire way to endear them to the audiences.
At 3:14 he gets a call from his investor and immediately, the early easy going vibe disappears, the investor is displeased because of the app’s low performance. Dane stutters and stumbles trying to defend his work against the investor’s criticism.
What follows is long silence, as he dejectedly stares blankly at the phone long after the other party hangs up. Later on, at 7:17, Dane has a jittery body language, maybe due to the stress and as with many workaholics, he probably consumes coffee so often. The combination of acting, extreme close up, and shaky cam shot conveys the hectic messiness of his life.He finds someone on Tinder he really likes and wants to get to know her. Meanwhile, his work is in a slump. On top of that, he learns his mother gets lymphoma, a form of cancer, and she needs money for treatment, which he doesn’t have. This sends him into a succession of emotions, he stutters (17:10), then the look of utter disbelief (18:40), just processing the news then in a trance (18:59). He then tries to keep his tears out (19:10).
Finally, the reality begins sinking, which leads to rage building up, followed by noticeably messier hair after the jump cut, as if it was ruffled in frustration.
Shortly, the investor pulls the plug on his app, but he decides to keep the company anyway.
There’s a lot of telling instead of showing in the story. Hence the narration is such a key point of the storytelling.
He decides to go rogue and hack some communication system that accidentally enables him to pick up signals from a girl’s phone, and gets into the habit of listening in on her conversation. He becomes infatuated with her. After collecting enough information, he goes to see her and uses the knowledge he gleaned from spying to form a bond.
Given our knowledge as the audiences, his behavior here would register as creepy. But to the girl, it may come across as brazenly romantic. Dane can balance the duality well. He never blinks while talking to her. He fakes surprise, believably, when she is impressed by his knowledge. Throughout this interaction, he has a stunned expression as if he cannot believe she’s speaking to him.
At 39:17, he panics a little seeing the ring on her finger. He clicks his tongue as he ruminates how to bring up the ring. His face tenses but it immediately lights up when she says she bought it herself (39:34).
They go on a date and the two play off of each other interestingly. He’s all nervous trying to flatter her, while she’s relaxed and interested. He keeps his eyes on hers all the time, again barely blinking. His tone and gaze exhibit a bit of fear, like he knows he’s not being truly honest with the girl. Contrast that with her, she’s confident and so in the moment. Acting often depends on your scene partner and this is an example why.
The next scene, they are together. But the change in the visual color tone suggests that it may be a dream. In it, she finds out that his app Find Yours has been spying on people and confronts Dane about it. His first reaction is denial – but he stumbles on his words, his eyes dart around, unlike how he usually is with her. The classic sign of lying is all there.
As she continues to push him, he gets smaller. No, he’s still towering over her but his stature shrinks – his body is tense and his shoulders slump. Finally, he admits his wrongdoing and gets sent away. Credit to this actress, she is a great foil for Dane. She can turn from happy to stunned to fiery in a snap, and it’s so believable.
At 49:36 he releases a deep sigh at the whole situation being actually, not a dream.
Dane contemplates suicide for a while. At 49:49, we can see his chest rise and fall rapidly as he looks up, questioning his life choice. In the end, he decides to flee the country.
The film ends with his narration, continuing long after the screen cuts to black. It’s a rambling, first he keeps audiences up to speed with his life after fleeing the country to avoid police investigation. Then it becomes more personal. By the end, he slows down and takes deep breaths in between words, like pondering if his claim that life’s good is really true. Then his monologue gradually turns into sobs in between his words, a couple of times he can be heard swallowing his tears, before he just utterly bawls.
At 56:20, with a cracked voice he finally admits his guilt over what he’s done, whereas before that he’s all denial and masking his pain. I must say, this soliloquy is the best part about the entire film. No visual involved, just pure emotions delivered through voice acting.
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