An Oversimplification of Her Beauty: Sundance Film Review
PARK CITY — Both formally experimental and emotionally accessible, Terence Nance's An Oversimplification of Her Beauty diagnoses assorted ills in a real-world love affair with the meticulousness of the heartbroken-yet-self-aware. A debut exhibiting wide-ranging talent and a fresh personality, it should attract attention at daring arthouses.
After realizing that his growing love for his friend Namik might not be reciprocated despite their emotional intimacy, musician/artist Nance writes a short film, How Would You Feel? Working with footage the two shot together, he constructs an ingeniously looping film in which a narrator's rich baritone digs deeper into causes of his romantic distress; at each iteration of the loop, the narrator sardonically asks, "given the aforementioned circumstances, how would you feel?
After screening the short for Namik and finding it does not win her over, Nance sets out to expand it -- exploring, through a variety of animation styles and narrative tactics, not only this attachment but his romantic history in general. Returning throughout to his continuing relationship with Namik, he attempts to use the filmmaking process as a means of emotional growth.
What might have been annoyingly solipsistic proves mostly charming and poignant instead, largely thanks to Nance's cinematic ingenuity, but also because of his ability to both probe his feelings and hold them at a distance. He removes himself from the equation at unexpected moments, putting Namik's perspective front-and-center though it's clear he's dying to steer her heart toward his own. The result is rarely self-serving, but it does make the viewer want to see what this sensitive, imaginative filmmaker will do next.
Venue: Sundance Film Festival, New Frontier
Production Company: Media MVMT
Cast: Terence Nance, Namik Minter, Chanelle Pearson, Dexter Jones, Talibah Lateefah Newman, Alisa Becher, Jc Cain, Shanté Cozier, Reg E. Cathey
Director-Screenwriter-Editor: Terence Nance
Producers: James Bartlett, Andrew D. Corkin, Terence Nance
Executive producers: Paul Bernon, Jason Weissman
Directors of photography: Matthew E. Bray, Shawn Peters
Sales: Maren Olsen and Asher Goldstein, Traction Media
No rating, 94 minutes