Winner of a special jury mention at Slamdance, “Without” is bereft only of blockbuster potential, as its abundant virtues include stunningly evocative visuals and an intense performance by Joslyn Jensen as a 19-year-old struggling with mysterious personal issues while working as caregiver to a catatonic old man in Puget Sound. Demanding and rewarding one’s close attention, this subtle debut feature by writer-director Mark Jackson tells much of its story through a vivid presentation of the young woman’s daily rituals as they — along with her moods — gradually change shape. Smallish fests won’t want to be without “Without.”
Sullen and none too poised, Jensen’s Joslyn isn’t the sort to benefit emotionally from tending to a man who doesn’t talk in a remote cabin, sans cell phone signal or Internet connection. In between spoon-feeding, wiping, dressing and undressing Frank (Ron Carrier), Joslyn stares longingly at PDA pics of a woman who may be — or may have been — her girlfriend. As brilliantly shot in HD by Jessica Dimmock and Diego Garcia, portions of the frame are often fuzzy, mirroring a narrative that only snaps into focus near the end.