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One [Handuo Zhang, Canada, 2019]

A short experimental piece, One explores the ways in which we as humans tend to isolate ourselves through our routines. The film shows various characters as they go through their daily schedules, all set against a backdrop so white it is almost void-like. The white void has the effect of accentuating the characters and their actions, forcing us to focus purely on them.

In general, One’s use of minimalism is very effective. The lack of music (save for a piano played in the opening scene) and rarity of sound overall feels almost oppressive after a while and serves to highlight the film’s themes of isolation and loneliness.

The use of colour shows a knack for cinematography. The rare splashes of blue, red and yellow are striking when contrasted with the whiteness of the background and stick in the mind as some of the most memorable images from the film. Towards the end of One, when loneliness finally consumes the characters, all the colour is replaced by various shades of white. Even here, the colours are arresting perhaps owing to the almost chalk-like quality the characters and sets take on.

One is a film that causes the viewer to reflect on its themes, literally at one point, as a character turns a mirror towards the camera. In the last scene, someone gets up and starts walking, making the first steps towards escaping isolation and loneliness and the first steps towards recovery.


'One' was a film in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2019.


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