By Maria Gkika,
Even when a movie lasts less than an hour, a meaningful story can have a full impact on the audience. This is the magic of short films, especially when films are of quality and include everything that makes a film worthwhile. This is the case with The Neighbours’ Window, a well-told short film written and directed by Marshall Curry, that was awarded the Best Live Action Short Film at the 2020 Oscars, which was in fact based on a true story.
At its core, it is a story about humans and emotions. A middle-aged woman (Maria Dizzia) lives a normal but stressful life with her husband (Greg Keller) and her three energetic kids. While tiredness and frustration cause a strain on her relationship with her husband, a young couple moves into the building next door (Juliana Canfield and Bret Lada). The older couple, bitter about their loss of youth and the responsibilities of parenthood, give in to the temptation to watch their newly arrived neighbors from the windows of their apartments. When they realize everything is not what it seems, jealousy gives way to empathy and understanding.
Since the screenplay and acting are very realistic, it is very easy for the viewers to see themselves in the character’s place. It may be over-analyzing, but I find it to be a fitting metaphor for how we interact with social media. Like the middle-aged protagonists that spy on their neighbors with binoculars, we get addicted to watching other people’s lives through that tiny window called screen, making assumptions about what their life is like even if we only see just a small portion of it, and we envy them, wanting what they have and despising our own life through an unfair comparison.
Simple and precise, this short film manages to have it all in just 20 minutes, even though the emotional impact might be enhanced with the addition of some more scenes. The cinematography is amazing and perfectly sets the story’s mood. The editing allowed for smooth transitions between the scenes. This was very important, as almost the entire filming takes place in a single room and throughout the narrative time passes fast. Predominately, the film focuses on the middle-aged woman protagonist whose depth was brilliantly brought to life by Maria Dizzia’s captivating portrayal. On the other hand, the other characters much or less tend to fade to the background.
All in all, The Neighbours’ Window is a film that challenges the viewer with a change of perspective. This is made even clearer by the directing of the last shot. Even though things get difficult in life, it is wise to appreciate what we have and focus on looking forward to the future, not others’ windows…
- The Neighbors’ Window, imd.com, Available here
- The Neighbors’ Window, wikipedia.org, Available here
- The Neighbors’ Window review: When we were too young, indianexpress.com, Available here