Review: ‘Letter’

DV trifle will have its adherents, but "Letter" wears out its digital welcome pretty quickly. Consumer-grade pic consists almost entirely of text messaging, and there's little invention in that text nor how it's shot. Pic will be an object of amusement (both pro and con) at experimental-minded fests, but reception elsewhere will be fuzzy at best.

DV trifle will have its adherents, but “Letter” wears out its digital welcome pretty quickly. Consumer-grade pic consists almost entirely of text messaging, and there’s little invention in that text nor how it’s shot. Pic will be an object of amusement (both pro and con) at experimental-minded fests, but reception elsewhere will be fuzzy at best.

Helmer Yusuke Sasaki won the Grand Prix at this year’s Image Forum fest in Tokyo, and there’s no doubt the then-17-year-old has guts. It takes some chutzpah to shoot more than 70 minutes of real-time footage, in grainy, underlit vid, complete with lots of attendant buzzes and squonks on the soundtrack. Except for a quick shot of the interlocutors at the start, the pic’s epistolary subject is a modern cell phone and the condensed verbiage it sends back and forth. Subtext, if one dare call it that, is alienation fostered by modern technology, and emotional payoff is supposed to come with revelation of deeper feelings. Few auds will find it worthwhile to spend time on something akin to reading faded computer printouts in a dark and noisy subway.

Letter

Japan

Production

An Image Forum presentation of a Yusuke Sasaki production. (International sales: Image Forum, Tokyo.) Produced by Yusuke Sasaki, Ryoma Takeno, Junya Nagano, Takahiro Fukunaga. Directed, written, edited by Yusuke Sasaki.

Crew

Camera (color, MiniDV), Sasaki; music, Masatoshi Inagaki. Reviewed at Vancouver Film Festival (Dragons & Tigers), Sept. 30, 2003. Running time: 75 MIN.
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